The Sexualization of Child Actors
We look back at our childhoods and think so fondly of the movies and television shows that we watched when we were younger. Who didn't watch Disney Channel after a long, stressful day at school? Who didn't watch Teen Nick while feeling incredibly rebellious because you were not in fact a teen?
A place to escape our childhood stress. A way to step into a different world.
However, since we live in the generation of 'awakening;' whatever that means to you; we evaluate and hold our entertainment to a much higher standard than we ever did before.
Let's take up the case of Dan Schneider for instance. The name itself may not ring a bell, but if I bring up iconic names such as 'Drake and Josh', 'iCarly' and 'Victorious;' you know exactly who I'm talking about. Dan Schneider, for a very long time, was Nickelodeon. He was responsible for creating and producing some of the most iconic children's entertainment over a period of almost 25 years; and he was widely celebrated for that.
However, in 2018 he was fired for alleged "well documented temper and anger issues." Nevertheless, no matter what their statement says, it is painfully obvious that Nickelodeon cut ties with Schneider to avoid the heavy backlash that he was and is still receiving. This includes numerous allegations of sexual misconduct involving young, underage actresses; and a hidden agenda of satisfying a reputed foot fetish by putting actors in scenes in which it could be realised.
There are numerous video compilations of an underage Ariana Grande in which she is repeatedly hypersexualized; with her character written into scenes in which her feet are the main focus of the episode. She is not only asked to play with her feet, but is also told to put them in her mouth. Another scene features her pouring water over her chest.
An entire episode of Victorious revolved around a plot line in which the main characters' feet were sucked on by exotic fish. Sounds innocent enough? However, rewatch any of the content he produced over those 25 years, and you will find an extensive history of writing scenes involving a character's feet.
The worst extent of his fetishised agenda materialised on September 14, 2013; when the official 'Sam and Cat,' Twitter account asked its young demographic (a show that claims to be suitable for children ages 7 and up); to submit pictures of their feet.
It doesn't even stop there. Dan Schneider was obviously notorious in children's entertainment. Therefore, any aspiring child actress would go to vast lengths to simply even be in a room with him; and he knew that. He would host "recruitment camps;" which were basically glorified pool parties at his house, where young preteen actresses would essentially compete for his attention. Several women have now come out with statements saying that the actresses that were hired for his shows were almost always the ones that managed to "prove themselves" to him at these parties.
So why is it that when we go back and watch these shows and movies that were so beloved just a few years ago, there seem to be so many sexual 'jokes' and undertones that we 'missed' when we were younger? It's because they weren't meant to be missed. They were included for the sole purpose of normalising pedophilloic and predatory behaviour.
Whether you admit it or not, a huge amount of our personality, moral character, thought process and outlook are based on the media that we were shown as children. So to discover that the intention behind some of the most popular and impactive entertainment of the time was to satisfy a middle aged man's foot fetish; is extremely disturbing.
You think it's just one disgusting pedophile in Hollywood? I'll give you a more recent example.
The Netflix film "Cuties," is a coming of age, dance drama about the dark side of poverty and internet culture. So naturally, you would assume that the promotion for the film would depict that. Right?
How naive. Instead, Netflix chose to market the film to international markets with a poster that featured the underage actresses in "dance costumes" consisting of spandex shorts and crop tops. I mean, I'm not going to tell you what you're supposed to think. Just take a look at it yourself: