On Sunday, January 21, Buzzfeed tweeted an article with the statement, “Millie Bobby Brown just Insta-confirmed her relationship with Jacob Sartorius and I have butterflies.” Quite quickly, the tweet was met with a barrage of comments, ranging from mild tuts that it was in poor taste to extreme condemnations of pedophilia and sexualization of a minor (Brown is 13 years old as of this post). I personally weighed in on the matter.
Earlier that day, CNN ran a video and story where actress/director/producer Natalie Portman opened up about her own experiences being a young girl in Hollywood. Portman’s breakout role was at 12 years old in The Professional, a movie that celebrated her phenomenal acting abilities. Per CNN, she received her first fan letter a year later, after the film had come out. In it was a rape fantasy. Her local radio show began counting down the time until her 18th birthday, when she would be of legal age. Mind you, she was 13 when all of this was happening, the same age as Millie Bobby Brown.
The parallels between these two stories should immediately be understood and seen. The sexualization and fanatical obsession with children, much less celebrities, is a plague that can only cause damage and harm to those who are on the receiving end. It is time that we recognize that this practice needs to stop. It is time that we all hold ourselves accountable.
A cursory search of Brown’s name on Buzzfeed will bring up at least 50 separate articles, on top of the one previously mentioned. These include what was said between “Stranger Things” co-star Finn Wolfhard and herself before their kiss in the second season. There’s a strange obsession with Brown’s Instagram account and the conversations between her and other celebrities. There’s even one that states Brown looks like a young Natalie Portman. The irony here is undeniable, and it seems very difficult to say that the site doesn’t have an obsession with the young actress.
Hollywood is under a great deal of pressure, rightfully so, from the #MeToo movement as well as Corey Feldman’s pursuit of revealing the truth about widespread pedophilia in that world (watch as he’s shut down by Barbara Walters). His claims have been echoed by Elijah Wood, although he himself states he did not suffer at the hands of any abusers.
Eliza Dushku’s alleged abuser, Joel Kramer, was recently let go from his agency twenty years after the supposed events took place. When people wonder why the actress didn’t come forward sooner, they overlook the fact that she went to authorities at that time. She details everything in an emotional post on her Facebook page.
The issue, however, does not just lie within those who create in Hollywood. It is exacerbated and pushed on by those who report on Hollywood’s actions and those that read it, lapping up the non-news proclamations with unabashed glee, not recognizing that they are feeding the same system that many are fighting against. Then, even more worrying, is that these “fans” feel entitled to these children, as though they are objects for their pleasure at any time, puppets that need to dance when beckoned.
Sophie Turner (“Game of Thrones”) weighed in with her thoughts on the matter:
Damn… seeing fully grown adults wait outside the ‘Stranger Things’ kids’ hotels etc , and then abuse them when they don’t stop for them…
— Sophie Turner (@SophieT) November 6, 2017
Wolfhard himself has asked that the infatuation and near assault of him and his co-workers come to an end:
Hey everybody! I don’t wanna ex-communicate anyone from this fandom, but if you are for real you will not harass my friends, or co-workers. Ya’ll know who you are.
— Finn Wolfhard (@FinnSkata) November 8, 2017
And yet, even on that particular tweet, Wolfhard’s fans responded with, “Ma babe trust no body,” “I love the right person bixo ♡,” “Love you finn,” and more. “Fans” are declaring their love for a 14-year-old boy that they’ve never met, a person that they’ve only really seen playing someone other than himself.
A culture has been established and reinforced that celebrities are somehow open for our sycophantic obsessions. This needs to stop. We need only to remember our own experiences as children so that we can apply them to these kids today. As Kevin Brown so wonderfully put it on Twitter:
hey everybody friendly reminder that millie bobby brown and jacob sartorius are children. remember your relationships in middle school, now imagine if that was broadcasted to the world…
— kevin brown. (@ballinbrown_) January 20, 2018