Sexualization in Hollywood

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The kids of Stranger Things have dealt with a lot. Otherworldly creatures, secret government organizations, psionic preteens, and the dangers of middle school. When the director yells cut, however, these threats stay on the screen and they’re free to live their lives in peace, or they should be.

Recently, 27-year-old Ali Michael posted a message on her Instagram aimed at 14-year-old Finn Wolfhard, who plays Mike Wheeler in the Netflix show and Richie in the remake of Stephen King’s IT, saying “not to be weird but hit me up in four years”. The model later apologized for the comment. When TMZ asked him how he felt about the comment he said “that was nuts. That was gross. That’s good that she apologized, it’s weird but… it’s fine”.

The comment is inappropriate enough on its own, but in light of the recent revelations about the rampant sexual harassment in Hollywood it is especially problematic.

In a video that since has been deleted, Finn is seen being harassed by a group of adults outside his hotel room when he declines to stop and talk to them. Shannon Purser, better known as Barb of #justiceforBarb, came to his defense on Twitter, as did Sophie Turner, Sansa Stark on HBO’s Game of Thrones.

This sexualization of young stars, especially girls, is hugely prevalent in Hollywood and the entertainment industry. Millie Bobby Brown, the 13-year-old who plays Eleven on Stanger Things, was included on W Magazine’s list of Hottest TV Stars. As Emma Watson, Hermione in Harry Potter, grew up in the spotlight there was a countdown to the day she hit the age of consent, and on the day she turned 18, photographers laid down on the pavement to take up the skirt shots now that they could be legally published.

The entertainment industry has created this attitude that views actors, singers, and artists as a commodity. Both people inside and outside the industry feel entitled to the people they see on-screen or hear on the radio. It’s really none of your business whether or not a Kardashian is pregnant, yet everyone seems to be clamoring for details as if they were the family’s closest friend. Your favorite actor has no idea you exist, yet people send death threats to the significant others of the people they idolize.

We have to remember that these people don’t owe us anything. They are doing their jobs and don’t deserve to be harassed. Adults should never look at children in a sexual light even as a “joke”. Especially as almost every day more entertainment elites are exposed as sexual predators, we must not let this behavior and these kinds of comments go with little more than a shrug or uncomfortable laugh.