In another case of “why do we think we own celebrities (especially children)?” Stranger Things star, Finn Wolfhard, was recently thrown under the bus by some fans because he did not stop to interact with them outside of his hotel.
The 14-year-old, who plays Mike Wheeler on the Netflix series, endured social media attacks claiming that he was unfriendly, not appreciative of his fame, and not a nice person. Really? That seems colossally unfair for a few reasons.
First of all, he appears on a streaming service’s show. It’s not even a network program that we follow all year. There are nine episodes and most people binge-watch this in a day or two. He has no idea what it’s like to be on-set at the Universal lot or to be the subject of a cliffhanger or season premiere in the traditional sense. This is uncharted territory for this high schooler.
Second, it’s odd to stand outside of a teenager’s hotel waiting for them. How would any of us feel in that circumstance? What if he had a bad night? What if he wasn’t feeling well? What if he suffers from anxiety or was in a terrible mood and didn’t want to deal with a crowd of strangers? Doesn’t he have that right, particularly as a minor?
Third, he is not public property. No celebrity is. Why do fans act as though they are owed something? Someone performs us and the reward is our entertainment. Transaction completed.
Fortunately, people have readily come to Wolfhard’s defense including Sophie Turner, who was just 15 when she began appearing on Game of Thrones. The British actress took to Twitter to say:
“Damn… seeing fully grown adults wait outside the ‘Stranger Things‘ kids’ hotels etc, and then abuse them when they don’t stop for them is super weird A. What adult in their right mind waits for a CHILD outside their hotel and B is then is offended when the CHILD doesn’t stop. It doesn’t matter if they are an actor…they are kids first. Give them the space they need in order to grow without feeling like they owe anyone anything for living their childhood dreams.”
She makes several valid points and in this time when the sexually predatory environment that can exist within Hollywood is being revealed, we need to support child actors’ right to do what makes them feel most comfortable.
Wolfhard also gained some support from former co-star, Shannon Purser, who played Barb on Stranger Things, who tweeted: “Okay, no. No actor is under any obligation to stop for anyone. Finn is an incredibly kind human. But he’s human and he needs breaks too.”
Have we learned nothing from Justin Bieber or are we still making fun of him for setting boundaries? We, as the audience, have to acknowledge our role in the pressure these young star’s face.
Just look at Wolfhard’s Stranger Things co-star, Millie Bobby Brown. I’ll go into the issue in greater detail sometime in the near future but, not only has the poor girl had to cancel engagements citing exhaustion but many feel that she’s already being oversexualized at just 13 years old.
In fact, Wolfhard, himself, has been subject to something similarly inappropriate. Ali Michael, a 27-year-old model, shared a picture of Wolfhard to her followers along with the caption “Not to be weird but hit me up in four years.” No wonder he doesn’t want to stop for a crowd of adults waiting outside his hotel!
As a society, we need to do better and we can start by respecting people and backing off when they say no without ridiculing or belittling them. This has gone on long enough.