I have two questions about the following sentence:

"A child star's shelf life is now shorter than ever, with many only making headlines for their substance-fuelled antics on the descent from acclaim to celebrity and obscurity."

  1. The meaning of the 'substance-fuelled antics' is not clear for me.
  2. In my understanding, the writer says that child actors, after a while, lose their position.

Why does he say "descent from acclaim to celebrity"? Isn't 'celebrity' a higher position comparing to 'acclaim'? Or I don't understand the meaning of this sentence well?

  • I think acclaim is a stronger word than celebrity; you may want to check some dictionaries. I think the word descent is justified. I don't know what "substance-fuelled" means. It sounds like a reference to drug use. Google can't find the quote. Where did you see it? Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 2:38
  • I found it in a book that I'm reading. "100 ideas that changed film" by David Parkinson, page 67.
    – Moha
    Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 2:44
  • 1
    I can't find more text from the book to support the idea, but a search for "substance-fuelled antics" shows it used to refer to activities associated with illegal drug use. Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 2:52

1 Answer 1


'Substance abuse' is a term used to discuss the misuse of drugs and sometimes materials which are not officially drugs in a medical sense (such as illegal drugs such as cocaine or marijuana, and alcohol, glue, solvents, etc). In short, mainly booze and/or pills. Substance-fuelled is a way of describing behaviour caused, or assisted by, such misuse. The later lives of child movie or pop stars often include periods of this. Such things as marital problems, erratic behaviour, or criminal charges can make newspaper headlines because of the person's fame.

Acclaim can be a temporary thing which ceases or diminishes leaving its object still famous (experiencing celebrity). This can cause stress and mental illness especially in a person who experienced fame and success while still a child.

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