I grew up in the ’90s. I don’t label myself with the popularized ”90s kid’ moniker, but I have to admit it was a pretty unique time to grow up. A lot of things I had assumed would be everlasting forces in day-to-day life fizzled out faster than my tiny brain at the time could fathom. The whole boy band craze specifically was a very hot flash in the pan and a very divisive one at that. I was (and always will be) an *NSYNC girl – Truth be told, I’m a firm believer that in a parallel universe Justin and Britney are still together and world peace has come to fruition, but that is beside the point. My cousin and best friend despite the information I’m about to divulge was a Backstreet Boys diehard through and through. We didn’t really understand each other because of this, however when you truly love someone you’re able to set differences aside, you know?
I was a child, so I obviously didn’t know that both groups were put together by the same mastermind – A man named Lou Pearlman. I also had no way of knowing that they were both being financially bled dry simultaneously by the aforementioned, fatherlike figure responsible for their careers.
I ended up watching THE BOY BAND CON: THE LOU PEARLMAN STORY days after completing Leaving Neverland, which completely rocked the foundations of the way I had viewed the world in which I was brought into. Yet again, we are unfortunately graced with a cautionary tale of what can happen when young, passionate children fall into the wrong hands. Though the crimes of Pearlman’s were of a different nature, they were just as criminal and resulted in longterm damages.
In a very brief summarization, Pearlman personally invested millions of ‘his’ own dollars into the Backstreet Boys. What couldn’t be known to the group at the time was the origins of the money. Here was a man who had built himself up over years of intricate scams, and though he pandered to the hearts of the young musicians involved, the boy bands to him were nothing but another opportune Ponzi scheme. Fast-forward to the peak of their success, they realize just how much they’ve been ripped off. This pattern was being replicated with their rivals, *NSYNC – Both resulted in two major lawsuits, thanks to finding ways to get out of their contractual agreements with Pearlman. Even after being exposed for the crooked man he was, with a damaged reputation for manipulating children for financial gain, the cycle managed to continue.
Prior to viewing this documentary, I truthfully had given very little thought as too how destructive fraud is to those who fall victim to it. Over two thousand people invested in the various schemes Pearlman set in motion, and it scathed and destroyed a vast majority of them. I think we’ve all been forgetting the tail-end of the term ‘show business’, that it is, in fact, a business, more often fuelled by greed. This cyclical manipulation of young artists at the hands of Pearlman, which continued even following the two aforementioned lawsuits, exemplifies one of the many ways in which children can quickly become preyed upon by those in positions of power.
THE BOY BAND CON: THE LOU PEARLMAN STORY served its purpose as a documentary, as it successfully educated me thoroughly on a subject in which I was unfamiliar. It was an eye-opening, entertaining experience and brought to light a facet of the entertainment industry that needs to be remedied. Children must be protected from manipulation at all costs, because sometimes no matter how much one may look like a sheep… A wolf lies beneath.