One of my favourite Hollywood stories is the fact that Kurt Russell made Escape From New York in part to break out of being a wholesome Disney star. I love that. He didn’t sink into addiction or have a breakdown or anything; he just made a violent movie that Walt wouldn’t have approved of. It’s one of the reasons I would want him on my hypothetical panel of people teaching child stars how to grow up. However, a thing that I have come to realize about the story is that no one expected him to be nude to prove it.
I feel certain I’ve written about this before, but I can’t find the article if I did. It’s true that there are relatively few child stars who go on to successful adult careers, which is one of the reasons I want that panel. Especially because, ideally, it would include people who quit acting and went on to normal lives in other industries. But a thing I’ve noticed is that, in general, women who were child stars tend to do at least one movie where they show their breasts. As if, without seeing them, we won’t know they aren’t children anymore.
Obviously, this has not always been true, but of course much fuss was made over the first movie where Shirley Temple kissed someone. Because without kissing someone, she wouldn’t be a grown-up. I’m sure Mickey Rooney did movies where he kissed people, but would that have made it to the poster as a selling point? (It turns out it wasn’t for Shirley Temple, either, because people didn’t want to let her grow up. But that’s a different issue.) But it happened to Jodie Foster, who had already by that point played an actual prostitute and arguably never had the normal trajectory of a child star. Heck, she came of age in the ’70s and had already done a nude scene as a child.
Oh, part of the issue is that we expect more nude scenes of women than of men in the movies. Because men still control the industry, for one thing. But I feel like the main reason we haven’t gotten an Emma Watson nude scene is that she herself would not stand for it, not because someone hasn’t had the idea of “Hermione’s all grown up!” Yes, Daniel Radcliffe did Equus, and a lot of people made a lot of fuss over his nude scene int hat, but those kids are the exception to things in a lot of ways.
I feel as though we’re willing to let boys who act become men in different ways. It wasn’t enough for Anne Hathaway to deliver powerful performances in challenging movies; the way she showed she wasn’t in The Princess Diaries anymore was to show us her breasts. As if we’re entitled to her body. As if she’s not an adult until she proves to us that she has an adult body. It’s gross. I hope Emma Watson is helping to prove that we don’t need to do that to people anymore.