Children are not sexual objects.
As a nation handling the ongoing fight against sexual assault and misconduct that our favorite actors and “well-respected” politicians have apparently been engaging in for decades, it is time we start to address another side of the issue. While interns and young actors and actresses are being taken advantage of by repulsive individuals in roles of authority and power, children in Hollywood are being dragged into the hyper-sexualized spotlight as well.
This is not about teens having crushes on other teens from their favorite shows, but rather fully grown adults being attracted to children. Kids who choose to follow their dreams and head into the entertainment industry are being asked to grow up more quickly than their non-famous counterparts, which has apparently made it okay for them to become targets for individuals looking to turn their youthfulness into some sexual fantasy. This is certainly not something we can tolerate or normalize.
With the return of the wildly successful show Stranger Things, the kid-filled cast is back to taking over our television screens on every award show, late-night program, and social media platform. Almost immediately following the premiere, Finn Wolfhard who has gained recognition as both Mike from Stranger Things as well as Richie in IT, was caught up in several controversies. Wolfhard was criticized for refusing to take pictures with fans waiting outside of his hotel as well as avoiding paparazzi.
With Wolfhard having been called rude and ungrateful by “fans,” it is time to step back and look at the situation from a reasonable perspective. He is a child who is just trying to go about his day, and adults are upset because he is not stopping to cater to their wishes for a picture. Wolfhard has also been very public with his request for adults to stop taking pictures of him and referring to him in sexual context, as well as putting him on a pedestal as some strange fantasy.
“Hollywood is unmasking a pattern of pedophilia within its social sphere, but it is not a joke that should be made.”
Following this, he was brought up again by model Ali Michael, when she posted a picture of the young actor and captioned it suggesting he call her in four years, when he is legal. This is a 27 year old woman implying she is attracted to a child, and defending her “joke” by saying she will wait until it’s legal to act upon. Hollywood is unmasking a pattern of pedophilia within its social sphere, but it is not a joke that should be made. The backlash would have been much larger had it been an adult male fantasizing about a female child, which brings back the sad fact that Kevin Spacey’s victim probably also would have received more support had he been a girl.
This incident was not unique for just Finn, as the exact same occurred to his co-star Millie Bobby Brown, when she was included on a “Hottest TV Stars” list in W Magazine. Brown is 13 years old, and is being placed into a club based on her “sex appeal.” The magazine was not talking about “hot” in terms of careers that are taking off, but instead about stars who are bringing attention to t shows because of their appearance.
Backlash followed with fans outraged that a magazine would think it is acceptable to publish such a list containing a minor, while others defended the action explaining that “it’s just what happens” when kids go to Hollywood. This is something that needs to be addressed. It is only “acceptable” for that to be used as an argument because society has allowed that to be justifiable. If everyone could just agree to a seemingly obvious understanding that under no circumstance is it okay to sexualize a child, we would not have to deal with that mentality.
It is understood that kids in Hollywood will probably not have the “traditional childhood” they would had they chosen to remain out of the spotlight. But their new life should not include harassment and being seen as sexual objects, they should be seen as they are, which is a child. Not only does this place blame on the victims and their families for deciding to enter into this industry, it also takes responsibility away from the perpetrators. The individuals who are treating children like this are not called out for their sick actions because instead we are saying it is the family’s fault for placing the child in the situation. As a society, we should focus more on protecting the innocence of our children instead of subjecting them to the apparent norms of Hollywood.
Follow this author on Twitter: @mollie_finnegan