If, by the transitive property of the unofficial age rule, you shouldn’t have a relationship with anyone twice your age minus seven, I think it likely that the vast majority of people had early crushes on inappropriate people. That is leaving aside the obvious, that a world where we can be extremely familiar with images of the past means that many of us have had crushes on people who were actually dead when we started being attracted to them, people as much as a century or more older than we are. I’m talking, you know, my crush on Val Kilmer when I was in high school. I saw Batman Forever in the theatre twice for him; I was eighteen and he was thirty-five.
I realized the other day that Tom Holland is about as much younger than I am as he is older than my two-year-old. I have a twenty-one-year-old daughter who’s about the perfect age for him, meaning I am literally old enough to be his mother, though I don’t know how old his mother actually is, and I’m nine years younger than his father. But I’ve done all this math because I saw that video where he lip-syncs to “Umbrella,” and I was not at all comfortable with how attractive I found him, because he is a child.
Moving away from age, though, there are all kinds of other sexualities that I think get explored in celebrity crushes. I’m straight enough to basically code as straight, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a nice chat with my lesbian friends about, say, Gillian Anderson or Tori Amos. (I mean, I already dated myself twice in this article; mentioning Tori doesn’t give you any new information.) I was in a class once where we watched Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and there was not a person in that room, I suspect, who was unaware of how attractive both Paul Newman and Elizabeth Taylor are in that film. The person who commented on how hot Paul Newman was prefaced it by mentioning that he was straight, and the other straight guys all agreed!
And, of course, there’s the other one I considered for my article image, this one a character. Specifically Disney’s Robin Hood, the Face That Launched a Thousand Furries. Even people who are not attracted in general to anthropomorphized animals can usually admit an attraction to Robin or Marian or both. I came across a discussion today about Tony the Tiger. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover someone out there with a yen for Basil of Baker Street and no other anthropomorphized mice. And of course who of my age can forget Garth asking Wayne if he found Bugs Bugs Bunny attractive when Bugs dressed in drag?
It doesn’t matter, though; none of these crushes matter. Half the inappropriate people I have crushes on are dead, and of the living ones, well, what are the odds that I’m going to run into Tori Amos when I’m at the mall today? (I promise I’ll let you all know if it happens, though!) While I don’t personally object to the idea of a same-sex fling, for people who do, it’s safe for the person they’re attracted to be Paul Newman from 1958. Not only is 1958 more than six decades ago, Paul Newman is dead! You’re not going to melt under those piercing blue eyes—or Elizabeth Taylor’s dreamy violet ones, if that’s your same-sex celebrity crush.
Sure, for some people, this goes on to be more than just a safe crush—I’ve written before about how all celebrity crushes are basically a safe way to explore your sexuality, but I also know more than a few people for whom celebrity crushes were their way of discovering their sexuality. However, I think it’s also a way to figure out who you are and what you like in a way that doesn’t hurt anyone, including yourself.