The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Sexist culture is rooted in various spheres of our society, and this is no different when we think about the cinematographic industry. Several issues are linked to the “Hollywood World” and, among them, the age gap in movies can be highlighted. This tradition of placing actors of very different ages in romantic pairs isn’t current: it is something socially constructed, that continues to manifest itself today, which shows a naturalization of this sexualized and pedophile environment.
Problem and consequences
The consequences are numerous, as it messes with the minds of those who are watching, especially teenagers who start to think that this type of relationship is normal, when in fact it is not. The filmmaker and screenwriter, Carissa Vieira, believes that films directly influence society, just as reality affects cinema.
“This idea that cinema does not impact reality is a lie, because there are people who say that it does not. It’s actually cyclical, reality influences cinema and it influences reality. If we, as an audience, grow up watching films where this logic exists, we end up thinking that it is natural. We see these age differences so big in the movies, then we start thinking that this is the way to relate. A thirty-year-old interested in a fourteen-year-old is weird as well as a crime. We grew up in an extremely sexualized and contradictory logic”, says Carissa.
The age gap matters because movies are a major part of our society and relate to how we think about the world. The first place that many children see relationships that aren’t between their parents is on screen, movies are persuasive and reflect the way we are gonna act and build our culture.
Women are the main victims of this system. The imposition of womanhood into girls is even more amplified, and this cultural aspect causes an appreciation of the eroticized image of girls. Thus, future generations will find it natural to have this sexualized environment.
Women are not allowed to age
Another question that this issue raises is how men are allowed to age and women are not. “Women reach thirty-five in Hollywood and they begin to play the sole and exclusive role of mothers. While men reach seventy being the heartthrobs. So we take the James Bond filmography and the guys are middle-aged men and every Bond Girl is a much younger woman, women who are adults of course, but always much younger, and this is recurrent in the industry as a whole”, says the filmmaker.
A case that has received great attention and serves to better exemplify is the one that happened with Maggie Gyllenhaal in 2015. She told The Wrap that she was considered too old to play a 55-year-old romantic interest, at the time the actress was 37. This situation opened the door to this debate in Hollywood: a survey by film producer Stephen Follows after this event showed that, on average, the age difference of heterosexual couples was between 4 and 5 years.
After nearly a decade, no really significant change has taken place in Hollywood. “The industry is made by white, straight men who like and have that desire. There are years and years of this logic, so for that to change it needs a lot of deconstruction, and that takes a long time. So, probably, this will continue for a long time”, concludes Carissa.
The article above was edited by Julia Queiroz.
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