Just why?! I get that it’s okay because the actors are of age (sometimes), but they’re still playing into some f*cked up adult male fantasy of wanting to bang underage women.
There was the GQ photo shoot with the Glee cast in 2010, there was Dona’s pole dance in 2001, and there was Betty’s pole dance and cam girl career in 2017.
I can’t be the only one that’s freaked out by this. Maybe it’s because I’m an adult and I’m just not getting “teen culture” anymore, but this just rubs me the wrong way.
Yeah, Dona’s pole dance was supposed to be comedic set up for the real punchline — when she kicks Eric in the face — but that doesn’t negate the sexual nature of the first pole dance, which was supposed to titillate the male viewer. Sure, she was in her twenties in that scene, but she’s still playing a high schooler in a show for high schoolers — as well as adult men! What message is this sending to people?
Same with Riverdale and Betty’s strip tease, like she’s supposed to be 16?
I’m all for expressing your sexuality openly and freely, but the set ups aren’t there to make Dona feel empowered — just the last one where she gets her revenge on Eric, who constantly makes remarks about her huge chest /rolls eyes. Way to normalize this behavior.
The set up for Betty is that it’s a long time Serpent ritual. Originally, she doesn’t have to do it, but then for some reason she wants to perform in front of grown *ss men. Like are we ever going to talk about her issues? I mean maybe it was empowering for the character, or maybe she just has severe daddy issues.
In any case, I don’t think adult actors should be playing teenagers because if these adult actors were teenagers and doing this, we wouldn’t be okay with it. If you wanna do high school role play in the bedroom, that’s another thing, but don’t go around romanticizing and normalizing it for a young impressionable audience, who might be coerced into doing things they don’t want to, just to fit in and seem cool.
To conclude, we need to stop sexualizing young people on TV because when we do, we become hypocrites. We’re saying okay to sexualizing teenage girls, without ever really caring about them as people!
We say they’re lying when they say they’re depressed or anxious. We don’t care about what they like or what their goals and interests are. Instead, we look down on their interests like boy bands and YA novels or obscure fan fiction or whatever else they’re into. We don’t want to see fifteen year olds for what they are — awkward, dorky, uncomfortable — we want women to go from prepubescent child to busty woman overnight. We need to validate young girls and their awkwardness or else leave them feeling alienated and this intense pressure to grow up.
Let kids just be kids. Sex is a part of growing up, but it’s not the ONLY thing about growing up.
P.S. I didn’t even go into Mila Kunis’ age. I’m fine with her lying about it to get the role, but after that, they should have suited her dialogue for fourteen year old girl rather than a grown woman who’s being hit and who is hitting on men six or more years older than her. Not to mention there’s one episode where she’s hitting on a legit older man who used to date her mom.
P.P.S I didn’t even go into society’s obsession with young abused and traumatized women, but that’s for another day.
24 year old English major and ESL Teacher. Currently living in Fortaleza, Brazil. Feminist and kill joy with a cause.