By: Keilany Ligons
From the sexual harassment cases of Harvey Weinstein, to the less noticeable things like films making jokes about seducing teenage girls, the entertainment industry has had a long history of predatory behavior towards young girls and women. It’s been consistently brushed aside as jokes or made excuses in order to take attention away from how inappropriate and wrong these actions are.
Young girls have been put in this situation because of their position in the spotlight and are taught that it’s normal, or that they owe people something, or that they’re required to as opposed to holding the ones at fault accountable properly. And unfortunately, it’s been something so normalized for so long that it’s been easy to get away with it, no matter how subtle or noticeable it is.
A lot of people have this idea that barely being a legal adult means there’s nothing wrong with an unusually large age gap. Yes, by that point, the barely legal adult is responsible for their decisions, but they are only adults by government terms. Age-wise, eighteen and nineteen is still very much a teen.
There is an insane amount of men in the film industry who are or have been, in relationships
with women young enough to be their daughters. There are several reasons for this, one being how young women are viewed as easy to manipulate at such a young age in a very exploitative industry.
One of the easiest examples to use is Leonardo Dicaprio. There is no doubt that Leonardo Dicaprio is one of the most talented actors in the industry; but it took people a while to notice his inability to be in a relationship with a woman his own age, let alone older than 25. Leonardo Dicaprio is currently 47 years old. His current girlfriend of 5 years, Camila Morrone, will be 25 in June. When Camila was born, Dicaprio was already 22-years-old.
This hasn’t been the only time he’s been with women significantly younger than him either.
This is a chart made by a user on Reddit named TrustLittleBrother that shows the difference between Dicaprio’s age and that of his girlfriends over the years. His relationship with all these women ended when, or before, they were 25. The average of all their ages is 22.9 years. He was also in a relationship with Bridget Hall when she was 17 – not even a legal adult yet – and he was 20.
While there’s nothing wrong with a few year gaps, and most of these women are legally able to make their own decisions, the rational part of the brain isn’t fully developed until the age of 25, and it’s more than concerning that a man who is pushing 50 sees nothing wrong with dating women young enough to be his children.
Of course, he isn’t the only one. Doug Hutchison, Johnny Depp, Jim Carey, and several more men in the film industry are prone to dating women half their age or younger -including underage girls- and not much is said about them.
This issue happens as often on camera as it does behind the camera. For the longest time, it’s been a common thing to treat female characters in movies and TV shows as if their only purpose is to attend to the male gaze of what women should be to them.
Whether it’s in Sixteen Candles, when Jake Ryan brags about how he could sexually assault his unconscious girlfriend if he wanted, or how Sydney Sweeney had to tell Euphoria director Sam Levinson that her 17-year-old character had too many nude scenes and asked him to cut some out, or the way actors tend to have love interests played by women much younger than them, or just the overall teacher-student romance trope, the man-made view of women has been an unsettling issue that, while may not be as tolerated anymore, is still common to see.