Mocking the likes of Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift does not just amount to bullying, it dehumanizes young celebrities, according to actress Jada Pinkett Smith.
Pinkett Smith, who is raising two children under the media spotlight with husband Will Smith, told Good Morning America that the public needs to watch what they say about young stars.
"I think we have to be very careful that we're not creating prejudiced attitudes… that you can justify treating a person lesser than because of certain qualities," she said. ""So the idea that Justin Bieber is young, famous and rich, so people go, 'I don't need to care about Justin Bieber. He's Justin Bieber. He's got the whole world."
She added: "You're dehumanizing them because of their celebrity."
Pinkett Smith's comments on the daytime talk show elaborated on a message she posted on her Facebook page last month decrying how the public criticizes young stars through the media and on social networks.
"It is as if we have forgotten what it means to be young or even how to behave like good ol' grown folk," she wrote. "Are these young people not allowed to be young, make mistakes, grow, and eventually transform a million times before our eyes?"
Pinkett Smith went on to suggest that the majority of us are just envious. "We WISH we could have had the capacity to accomplish HALF of what they have accomplished along with ALL these challenges they face. But... maybe THAT'S the problem.."
It's true that celebrities do get unduly ridiculed (regardless of whether they are children or adults). And public scrutiny can often devolve into nasty vitriol. But should young stars really be off-limits to criticism?
Many of the stars who attract the most flak, such as Bieber, Lindsay Lohan and Miley Cyrus, began their careers as role models for children. Of course the public should expect that they'll make mistakes as they grow up, but when they're making these mistakes in full view for all to see, they become cautionary tales as well. This makes it tough to simply "congratulate them for the capacity to work through their challenges," as Pinkett Smith suggests is the right thing to do.
Is it bullying and dehumanizing to call them "train wrecks"? And are we indeed envious of their fame and fortune? Or does their stardom permit us to hold them to a different standard?