Oh, you didn't know? Former High School Musical star Zac Efrom apparently did a stint in rehab five months ago. And no one knew anything about it, until now. So, where's the moral outrage? Isn't time we freak out? A Disney star has an alleged drinking problem, after all!
Yet, no one's really making that big of a fuss. Admittedly, it seems like a lot of the public nonchalance comes from the celebrity-obsessed media just following Efron's lead. He went to rehab a few months ago for alcohol addiction, healed, came back and successfully kept it under the rug until now. It's not exactly a scandal. There's been no shaving of heads, no public nudity, no discernible relapses, no DUIs.
And yet, it's hard to forget the treatment of Efron's fellow female former child stars in the media. True, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears, and Amanda Bynes did have massive public meltdowns, but their presence was mocked, ridiculed, and pitied for months on end. Meanwhile, Efron hardly gets a peep for his top-secret rehab mission? It's not like Efron deserves some sort of mob outrage for going to rehab, which is a very healthy, normal human thing to do, but this does say something about how we treat female celebrity addicts.
There's only one male counterpart to the public breakdowns of the former child star diva variety, and that's Charlie Sheen. And while Sheen had just as many (if not more) problems as these women and was just as frequently in the public eye, the mass public perception of Sheen was not of someone who was disturbed or should be ridiculed, he was seen as a person whose problems made him a hilarious guy, albeit not someone you should look up to. Charlie Sheen was the drunk uncle at the party, while women like Lindsay Lohan were the too-drunk girl who needed a ride home.
And this kind of attitude is incredibly unhelpful to celebrities who have real problems. Being mocked in tabloids for having an addiction is a kind of vicious cycle, and once female celebrities and the media start this dance, there's seemingly no end.
It's eerie, really, the differences between Zac Efron and former Disney stars like Lindsay Lohan or Miley Cyrus. On the surface, their career paths seem incredibly similar, but they're anything but. Efron never encountered pressure for expressing his sexuality while he was growing up and he never received criticism for going out and partying.
Public treatment of child stars growing up in the public eye has its own problems, but when that kind of criticism is turned toward former child stars seeking treatment, it becomes a much bigger one. Bynes, Spears and Lohan aren't silly party girls who used to be in your favorite shows as a kid; they're real women who have real problems. Treating them like a punchline only makes their problems worse, and it makes other real humans with actual problems, like Efron, want to deal with them in secret.