When I was a kid, teen idols were young adults.
David Cassidy released his first single when he was 20 years old.
John Travolta first played Vinnie Barbarino in Welcome Back, Kotter at age 21.
Child labor regulations make it difficult to work with juveniles under the age of 18, and besides, if you want a performer to appeal to adults as well as kids, it helps if they're not jail bait.
But they're getting younger and younger. According to Teen Idols 4 You, the top 20 idols today are:
1. Jacob Sartorius (left), social media singer, age 14
2. Jace Norman of Henry Danger, age 17. And he's been in the show for three years.
4. Mace Coronel of the Nickelodeon teencom Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn, age 13
5. Matty B, singer, age 14.
6. Asa Butterfield (left), movie actor, age 20. First became a teen idol in 2008, when he was nine. There are more shirtless pictures of Asa Butterfield, or someone like him, here.
8.Hunter Payton, age not given, but probably around 10.
I blame the fragmentation of mass media, with programming only for kids, tweens, and teens, so the actors and musicians don't have to worry about appealing to an adult audience.
9. Aiden Gallagher (left) of Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn, age 13
10. Justin Bieber, age 23. Rather long-in-the-tooth, as modern teen idols go.
And social media, which allows performers to become famous without "paying their dues" through years of low-paying jobs. Instead, they burst onto the scene with one or two songs or some youtube clips.
More after the break.
11. Daniel Skye (left), singer, age 16.
12. Casey Simpson of Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn, age 13.
It detracts from the whole meaning of the term "teen idol" as someone who draws a child into an awareness of their own same-sex desire (or cross-sex desire, for girls). How do they accomplish that while looking at a poster of a 13-year old?
14.Elias Harger of Fuller House, age 9.
It makes watching juvenile tv difficult to. No beefcake to look at.
15. David Mazouz of Touch, age 16.
16. Zac Efron, age 29.
17. Hayden Byerly (left), of Parenthood, age 16.
19. Ethan Wacker of Rizaardvark, age 15
20. Sean O'Donnell, movie star, age 21.
Ok, Sean O'Donnell has potential. But while waiting for Jason Ian Drucker and Ethan Wacker to grow up, I think I'll look at my collection of Robbie Benson photos.