Like the Jackson 5, Finger 5's appeal hinged on puppyishly seductive lyrics being sung by a prepubescent male lead singer whose voice hadn't even changed yet. According to a recent comment post on Metafilter about Finger 5, the group broke up shortly after the group's manager unsuccessfully tried to convince the 13-year-old lead singer to take hormone shots to prolong his ability to sing soprano. If not taking hormone shots is enough to make a 13-year-old an entertainment industry has-been, Michael Jackson's self-mutilation and body modification suddenly becomes more understandable.
Unfortunately, that's not the worst historical example of child exploitation for entertainment value that can be found on the Internet. According to true crime writer Johnny Marr, one of the most notorious child abuse cases of the 1950s was The Aquatots, a high-diving act that featured two preschoolers under the age of 6. Marr writes,
Back home in Miami, the Aquatots returned to their usual routine of training and performing until a tragedy in 1953 exposed the dark underside of parental ambition. Kathy, now five, was practicing dives from the 33-foot tower under her father's supervision. A particularly difficult one ended in a brutal bellyflop and Papa Tongay decided that was enough diving for the day. Besides, it was time for swimming practice. He took Kathy to another pool to swim some laps. Even after she vomited her lunch, he forced his badly-bruised, tearful daughter to swim a short workout. It would be her last. She died the next day from a ruptured intestine and internal bleeding.
Police suspected Tongay of beating Kathy to death. His heavy-handed coaching was a local legend. Aquatots training sessions had been banned at several hotel pools after guests complained about a little girl crying, "Please, Daddy, don't make me swim anymore." But after grisly testimony about the dangers of platform diving, Tongay got off with 10 years for manslaughter. He was later declared insane and committed to the state mental hospital.