Suddenly they are there: child stars, which one must take seriously. Time is divided into before and after. In front of climate activist Greta Thunberg (16) and musician Billie Eilish (17). They are both pop stars, and thus rare specimens, because the fragmented digital public sphere only allows such widespread effect in exceptional cases.
Pop stars are dazzling creations, which fulfill our wishes on the one hand and develop resistance on the other, so that we are not completely governed by our wishes. Pop stars must be able to convey an idea of the new, even if the channels are old, such as phonograms, pop concerts, demonstrations or assemblies. You have to do everything differently. Two young women or two old children: this is just the demographic dimension of what sets Greta Thunberg and Billie Eilish apart from the rest of an aging, male-dominated society.
In fact, Greta and Billie are doing everything differently than the child stars of the past 100 years. The little Shirley Temple had the skills of an adult in the thirties, her tap dance drowned the panting of the United States in the Great Depression . The message: The child has to steer the cart to distress itself, the parents are economically too weak for it. The Dutch child star Heintje sang in 1967 lines that sounded more like Papa, would have stayed mentally healthy after returning from captivity: "Days of youth pass / Quick, the young man / dreams of youth pass / Then life begins / Mama, I do not want to see a tear / If I have to leave you then. " Heintje was twelve years old. And in 1968, Mama remained the best-selling single in the old FRG.
At the end of the 1970s, boys rushed into the TV room, which had to cope on their own. The parents of the keychildren were both working now. Because they were allowed (emancipation) or because they had to (neoliberalism). In Germany it is from 1979 the fatherless Timm Thaler, who sells his laugh, wins every bet - a teenager as a broker of luck. And since 1990 Kevin - Alone at home - settles the matter with the burglars on his own, because the parents have forgotten him, they always have to think about so much at the same time. Another youth that is not.
Quite different with Thunberg and Eilish: They portray youth as something radically different from youth. They behave completely age appropriate. They are sad, they are angry, and actually they would rather not talk so much to adults. Because ... * eye roll *. Okay, let's make this album, a format for Papi, at the biggest record company in the world, thought Billie Eilish, who had done quite well with singles and videos for her child core customers until the end of last year. And Greta Thunberg organized students and could not expect that she would speak to the United Nations within a year. If it has to be ... Okay, I'll do it. But please do not ask me to burst out in cheers, right?
Teenagers presenting teens
Anyone who does not only know teens from the internet or the pop shop will not be surprised by this behavior. They are not necessarily curious about the adult's judgment, but they are rather polite nowadays. Sometimes they look out of the wash with such coolness that one does not know if they have even registered the question of their counterpart. Maybe they found the question funny, boring or anything. Maybe they are thinking of something else, the math test or the rare sneakers on ebay. Or they are just angry and do not know why. So far normal. In the global public, however, the normality of Thunberg and Eilish seems almost supernatural. They are teenagers who represent teens. The idea is as flat as it is ingenious.
Thunberg's seeming calm and her focus on the facts of climate change, her great, clear English, the unvarnished performances, and then she sails across the Atlantic without succumbing: Jesus! And just as Eilish and her brother were not only able to write these great songs, but also to produce them, and thus to erode many of the mechanisms of the recorded music industry, they are not dying so fast. Eilish and Thunberg are eccentric to the point of bursting, and yet usually in their development. Between these poles, every pop star moves, he or she has to hold the tension - between normal and not, sick or healthy.
The tragedy of some of the pop characters has always been that they sell pore purity, smoothness and perfection as adorable, thus sealing their own half-life. Thunberg and Eilish are goddesses of our time just because they exhibit their blemishes. For example, they deal with mental illness and deviation quite differently than the generations before them. Thunberg discusses Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of autism, and how she helped the climate movement overcome personal problems. From the file Eilish are known: Tourette and depressive episodes. Today teenagers talk about their last meeting with the psychologist. Few people smoke or take drugs, but many have harm without being ashamed. A politician of the older semester with an undiagnosed, potentially psychotic narcissistic disorder and greatly reduced impulse control can be jealous.