Our Culture Wants to 'Destroy' Celebs Like Me, Britney

Child actor Mara Wilson describes sexualization by the media
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 24, 2021 11:45 AM CST
Our Culture Wants to 'Destroy' Celebs Like Me, Britney
Mara Wilson arrives at the season two premiere of "Killing Eve" on April 1, 2019, at ArcLight Hollywood in Los Angeles.   (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

On her 13th birthday, Mara Wilson "made one of the biggest mistakes of my life." She opened up to a reporter, who would go on to describe a "complaining" child star who sounded "like a spoiled brat," Wilson writes in an op-ed at the New York Times. That 2000 article showcased what Wilson calls "The Narrative"—"the idea that anyone who grew up in the public eye will meet some tragic end." Even at 13, Wilson—the star of Matilda, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Miracle on 34th Street—was well aware of the need to avoid this type of narrative for herself, which is probably why, when the reporter also asked her opinion of Britney Spears, she said she hated her. "I think mostly, I had already absorbed the version of The Narrative surrounding her," writes Wilson, 33. "Her story is a striking example of a phenomenon I've witnessed for years: Our culture builds these girls up just to destroy them." Spears had been deemed a "Bad Girl," and Wilson wanted no part of that.

She now sees similarities in her life and that of Spears, both of whom were sexualized by others. Wilson notes reporters were asking if she had a boyfriend when she was 6 and 50-year-old men were sending her love letters. "But my life was easier not only because I was never tabloid-level famous, but because unlike Ms. Spears, I always had my family's support." She notes "The Narrative often has far less to do with the child than with the people around them" and "my sexual harassment always came at the hands of the media and the public," neither of which respected Spears' need for space during her infamous breakdown. "The Narrative was forced upon her, but the reality was she was a new mother dealing with major life changes," Wilson writes. "Fortunately people are becoming aware of what we did to Ms. Spears and starting to apologize to her," she adds. "But we're still living with the scars." The full piece is here. (Wilson also wrote about this topic in 2013.)

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