“Won’t Someone Think of the Children?” is the acronym.
I considered CS for this thread, but … it seems to be an issue that’s not precisely The Arts. Anyway, if the mods choose to move it, I won’t cry.
Anyway, the debate:
In HBO’s Weeds, 12-year-old character Shane Botwin gets a handjob from a Asian massage parlor, paid for by his uncle; the dialog on this point is explicit enough that there’s no mistaking what is supposed to have happened. 12-year-old character Isabelle Hodes has already decided she’s a lesbian and shares a kiss with another similarly-aged girl, which actually does happen – that is, it’s shown on screen. Later in the series, these two characters get stoned and discuss his touching of her breast.
In Houndog, 12-year-old actress Dakota Fanning appears in a rape scene.
Now, there’s no underage nudity to speak of in any of these presentations, but the subject matter is fairly described as ‘mature’.
In contrast, Patty Duke relates in her autobiography that one of her roles as a preteen was to portray a youngster who inadvertantly blurts out on a TV quiz show that her parents had premarital relations. She writes that she was taken aside and told that “premartial relations” were something grownups did, and huge care was taken with her not to expose the subject matter in any more detail.
Things have obviously changed.
On balance, I guess I don’t have a problem with the handjob storyline. But where’s the age cutoff? At what point should kid actors be expected to participate in mature themes? Should there be any government control of the issue at all? Should it be up to the parents alone, who could be motivated by things other than the child’s welfare?
Or is it simply not harmful to give a kid lines to speak, as long as it’s not followed up by doing? And even then – the preteen girl-on-girl kiss? For that matter, a pre-teen boy-on-girl kiss? The simulated sexual abuse? Those ARE actions, not just lines.
I’m uncomfortable with the whole issue, but don’t really have a clear plan to fix it.