Mara Wilson wrote an essay for the New York Times criticizing the media and Hollywood’s treatment of young stars, including Britney Spears, Drew Barrymore and Amandla Stenberg.
The actress, known for appearing in Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire, shared the essay on Tuesday. She begins her article by describing how an interview with a Canadian newspaper had gone wrong. What was set up as an interview about an upcoming movie, turned into an article suggesting that Wilson had his time in the limelight and would follow dark paths: a series of events she calls “The Narrative.” Wilson’s treatment, however, is not specific to her alone, as it draws parallels to the way the tabloids and media treated Britney Spears.
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“Her story is a striking example of a phenomenon that I have witnessed for years: Our culture edifies these girls only to destroy them,” Wilson wrote. “Fortunately, people are realizing what we did to Ms. Spears and starting to apologize to her. But we are still living with the scars. “
Wilson recalls the inappropriate interactions he experienced while working on various films during the 1990s. Never appearing in “nothing more revealing than a knee-length sundress,” Wilson recounts the ways the media and fans objectified and sexualized her preteen self, despite her best efforts. From people asking her about her romantic relationships at the age of six to men in their 50s who wrote their love letters, Wilson said she “felt embarrassed” by every awkward moment of unwanted attention.
“Hollywood has decided to tackle harassment in the industry, but I was never sexually harassed on a film set. My sexual harassment always came at the hands of the media and the public, ”he continues.
Wilson acknowledges that, unlike Spears during her due, she had a support system in the form of family and close friends. She wrote that she knew she had some control over her finances and how much was in the public eye.
She points out that the pop star didn’t have the proper space to deal with personal issues like her divorce and motherhood. As a result of constant attention from the paparazzi and the media, “the narrative was forced” on Spears, who continued to make it a spectacle for the tabloid and gossip media.
“The saddest thing about Ms. Spears’ ‘breakdown’ is that it never had to happen. When she separated from her husband, shaved her head, and furiously attacked a paparazzi car with an umbrella, the narrative was forced to accept, but the reality was that she was a new mother dealing with major life changes. People need space, time, and care to deal with these things. She had none of that, ”he wrote.
Wilson’s op-ed, titled “The Lies Hollywood Tells About Girls,” comes after Hulu Framing Britney Spears doc shed light on the media and general public’s treatment of the superstar.
Read Wilson’s full article here.