Predators Lurking

Sexual abuse in Hollywood is more than a dirty secret, it is one that has been perpetuated to be silenced and recurring to say the least. The recent allegations of Kevin Spacey shed light onto the sensitive issue of the sexualisation of children and teenagers in the dark world of entertainment, as what remains behind the curtains stay pulled in.

Numerous cast members and recently, Oscar winning actor Richard Dreyfuss’s son, came out as a victim to Kevin Spacey’s predatory behaviour years back when he was a child. This just proves the notion that child abuse is anything but prohibited or restricted in the industry. It is not the only time Kevin Spacey has been accused of such ‘inappropriate’ behaviour. The allegations first came to face when actor Anthony Rapp accused Spacey of sexual harassment. Spacey was 26 years old at the time and Rapp was 14. The incident occurred at a party in the former’s home. Spacey apologised by trivialising the matter and chose to term it as ‘deeply drunken inappropriate behaviour’. He even chose to reveal that he is homosexual, igniting debates about his timing of the reveal as it seemed to make matters worse.

Celebrities such as Michael Jackson, Bill Cosby and Woody Allen have all been (justifiably) under fire for allegations, numerous of which were true, emphasizing the fact that paedophilia is anything but a myth. Undoubtedly, the power dynamics in the celebrity industry are assisting in normalising and internalising child abuse. However, even though child abuse has rapidly increased, the showbiz industry has not intervened on the severe sexualisation of child stars or kids in the spotlight.

One of the most highlighted criticisms of the industry is the overt sexualisation of children in the media, that objectifies their position and increases their vulnerability in the public eye. For example, should we take a look at the hit Netflix show, Stranger Things, we may see that the protagonist, Milie Bobbie Brown, has been unnecessarily aged by media. This gives leniency to the audience to sexualise and commodify her character. Whether it is magazine covers or photo shoots, she is always seen in a light that showcases her sexual maturity and budding adolescence, which does not correlate with her actual age. Sexuality always seems be in forefront of the characterisation of young stars, as if their stardom is attributed to their sexual maturity. Instead of being praised for their acting ability, these children are seen as new age ‘sex symbols’. This is problematic, as the sexualisation of children has perpetuated the permissibility of them participating in adult activities. 

Assuming that their identity as vulnerable ‘star kids’ gives them an appealing, fantasy-like status to which the audience remains enthralled to, this very same imagery attracts predatory behaviour both in the entertainment industry and in the real world. Paedophilia has emerged to be a rather scary phenomenon, especially in Hollywood. Speaking up against it is the first step to combat this atrocity, but should not be the only. Legal action and rehabilitation is needed to restore justice and to reconcile the power dynamics in Hollywood.