Seriously, how are we not talking about the obvious here? This little girl was pimped out by her parents from the time she was a small child. That means that she was robbed of a normal development and all her innocence, under the BEST of circumstances. As someone who worked for 18 years on a TV show that ran long enough to watch many generations of small child actors “grow up” in the spotlight, I have observed up close the devastation that these kids experience and the price they pay. The stories that adult child actors tell are mind blowing: drugs to keep them focused, enforced thinness, sexual predators and more.
She became the biggest child star in the world at one point and when she left Disney, the biggest employer/panderer/destroyer of child actors in the business, the fame, power and attention stopped coming. Anyone who has ever raised a child knows how devastating it is for them to have a friend decide they’re not “besties” anymore. How deep must have been the damage to a kid who never got to be one, never got to learn limits and boundaries and whose parents (I’m assuming her, just from watching their behavior) never really provided much guidance or protection. Kids don’t have the perspective or impulse control that adults do. This is why the industry that exploits them, CAN exploit them. They don’t know any better. If she was preyed upon by men in power in the ways that most women experience on a normal day, than she was sexualized and objectified and commodified and told that would get her attention and make her successful.
The reality of the sexualization of all women in the business everywhere by men is. a. thing. That women’s success is tied to their “fuckability” is the basic truth that all women and girls in the entertainment industry must labor under, whether it’s overtly articulated or implied. Miley Cyrus did not create out of thin air the idea that men want to see her rubbing up against Robin Thicke (remember him? he was there, too.)
Porn was not invented by women to lure unsuspecting men into getting all hot and bothered and giving up their power. That is a ridiculous circular rationalization that men perpetrate to exonerate themselves (Really, honey, I was just standing here and she “threw herself” at me.)
So we are busily calling out, piling on and excoriating, essentially, the result, the victim, in this psychodrama, and ignoring the male dominated power differential that requires that women dance for their money. We are slut-shaming a kid engaging in a bald display of seduction that both titillates and repulses us. We are envious of her fame and success and riches and we think that those things will quench any desire, cure any unhappiness, fix any emotional or mental distress. We are embarrassed and defensive and we should know better. We are forgetting that she probably would trade any one or all of those things for a life, a voice, a childhood, herself.