“Shows like the one on Concert Television blur the barrier between fantasy and reality,” says child psychologist, Professor Russell Johnson. “They see an agent on TV negotiating a performance fee for Papa Roach, or refusing to grant a price reduction for Vanilla Ice, and they don’t realize how dangerous that will be if they try it at home.”
But is TV to blame? ConTV’s Hyena has been blamed for everything from the 10-year old Frankenmuth, Michigan, girl who required reconstructive plastic surgery after trying to negotiate sponsorship rights for George Strait, to the Miami boy who spent six months in traction after attempting to emulate the agents who put the Elton John / Billy Joel tour together. Now child behavior specialists claim the problem is more deeply rooted than anything depicted on a TV show.
“We all played ‘Agents & Promoters’ when we were kids,” says Dr. James Backus, staff psychiatrist for the Dawn Wells Children’s Hospital of Gardenia, Calif., whose founder rose to prominence by treating all adolescent psychological problems with electric shock therapy coupled with generous helpings of coconut cream pie. “TV may play a part, but what about the adults that grew up reading comic books like Super Agent and Bat Manager? You don’t see any of them donning spandex and booking dates for Phish, Newsboys and Robert Plant, do you?”
Dr. Backus believes that several conditions, including home environment, warm-up acts for Enrique Iglesias and No Doubt, as well as door percentages for Edwin McCain, all come into play when trying to pinpoint any influences which may cause a child to act in a totally foolhardy manner.
“It’s easy to finger concert industry professionals appearing on TV when your children suffer injuries while imitating promoters announcing dates for Voodoo Glow Skulls and Ari Hest,” says Dr. Al N. Hale of the Gill E. Gan Institute and author of the pop psychology book, Does Your Child Think He’s A Booking Agent? “But children have a very good grasp of the differences between fantasy and reality. For instance, they know that their own living room is reality.”
And the concert industry?
“Pure fantasy,” answers Dr. Hale. “With no firm basis in reality.” .