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Mara Wilson: the way people talked about Britney Spears...


abrahamjmr

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  • #FreeBritney Activist
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Britney Spears and I learned the same lesson growing up: When you’re young and famous, there is no such thing as control.

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By Mara Wilson

Ms. Wilson, an actor from age 5, appeared in many movies in the 1990s, including “Matilda” and “Mrs. Doubtfire.”

 

I spent my 13th birthday locked in a hotel room in Toronto.

 

It was July 2000, and I was on a press tour to promote the movie “Thomas and the Magic Railroad.” I had been promised a day off for my birthday, but when I arrived from Los Angeles the night before, I learned I would be talking to reporters all day. Working on my birthday wasn’t new to me — I had celebrated my eighth birthday on the set of “Matilda” and my ninth filming “A Simple Wish” — but this was still disappointing. Aside from a nanny, I was alone.

 

The next morning I got up, groggy from jet lag, and put on my best Forever 21 attire. Two press coordinators checked in before I started my interview: Did I want the air off, or a soda? I said I was fine — I didn’t want to get a reputation as a complainer. But when the journalist asked how I was feeling, I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life. I told her the truth.

I don’t know why I opened up to her. But I had never been good at hiding my feelings. (Acting, to me, is very different from lying.) And she seemed like she really cared.

 

The next day, Canada’s newspaper of record put me on the front page of its entertainment section. The article began, “The interview hasn’t even begun with Mara Wilson, Child Star, and she’s complaining to her staff.”

 

The article went on to describe me as a “spoiled brat” who was now “at midlife.” It described the dark paths child stars like me often went down. It embraced what I now refer to as “The Narrative,” the idea that anyone who grew up in the public eye will meet some tragic end.

 

At 13, I already knew all about The Narrative. As an actor from the age of 5, who was carrying films by age 8, I’d been trained to seem, to be, as normal as possible — whatever it took to avoid my inevitable downfall. I shared a bedroom with my little sister. I went to public school. I was a Girl Scout. When someone called me a “star” I was to insist that I was an actor, that the only stars were in the sky. Nobody would touch the money I made until I turned 18. But I was now 13, and I was already ruined. Just like everyone expected.

 

There’s one line from the article that jumps out at me now, amid the agents saying 12-year-olds needed to be “innocent-looking” and like an “Ivory Snow girl” to get cast and the lurid descriptions of child stars struggling with addiction. The writer had asked me what I thought of Britney Spears. Apparently, I replied that I “hated” her.

 

 

I didn’t actually hate Britney Spears. But I would never have admitted to liking her. There was a strong streak of “Not Like the Other Girls” in me at the time, which feels shameful now — although hadn’t I had to believe that, when I’d spent so much of my childhood auditioning against so many other girls? Some of it was pure jealousy, that she was beautiful and cool in a way I’d never be. I think mostly, I had already absorbed the version of The Narrative surrounding her.

 

The way people talked about Britney Spears was terrifying to me then, and it still is now. Her story is a striking example of a phenomenon I’ve witnessed for years: Our culture builds these girls up just to destroy them. Fortunately people are becoming aware of what we did to Ms. Spears and starting to apologize to her. But we’re still living with the scars.

 

By 2000, Ms. Spears had been labeled a “Bad Girl.” Bad Girls, I observed, were mostly girls who showed any sign of sexuality. I followed the uproar over her Rolling Stone magazine cover story, where the first line described her “honeyed thigh,” and the furor on AOL message boards when her nipples showed through her shirt. I saw many teenage actresses and singers embracing sexuality as a rite of passage, appearing on the covers of lad mags or in provocative music videos. That was never going to be me, I decided.

 

I had already been sexualized anyway, and I hated it. I mostly acted in family movies — the remake of “Miracle on 34th Street,” “Matilda,” “Mrs. Doubtfire.” I never appeared in anything more revealing than a knee-length sundress. This was all intentional: My parents thought I would be safer that way. But it didn’t work. People had been asking me, “Do you have a boyfriend?” in interviews since I was 6. Reporters asked me who I thought the sexiest actor was and about Hugh Grant’s arrest for soliciting a prostitute. It was cute when 10-year-olds sent me letters saying they were in love with me. It was not when 50-year-old men did. Before I even turned 12, there were images of me on foot fetish websites and photoshopped into child *****graphy. Every time, I felt ashamed.

 

Hollywood has resolved 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.

 

The saddest thing about Ms. Spears’s “breakdown” is that it never needed to happen. When she split with her husband, shaved her head and furiously attacked a paparazzi car with an umbrella, the Narrative was forced upon her, but the reality was she was a new mother dealing with major life changes. People need space, time and care to deal with those things. She had none of that.

 

Many moments of Ms. Spears’s life were familiar to me. We both had dolls made of us, had close friends and boyfriends sharing our secrets and had grown men commenting on our bodies. 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. I knew that I had money put away for me, and it was mine. If I needed to escape the public eye, I vanished — safe at home or school.

 

Read the full article:

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/23/opinion/britney-spears-mara-wilson-hollywood.html

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2 hours ago, abrahamjmr said:

When she split with her husband, shaved her head and furiously attacked a paparazzi car with an umbrella, the Narrative was forced upon her, but the reality was she was a new mother dealing with major life changes.

How can she know this? Conservatorship aside, it makes no sense to put Britney's mental state down to just being a new mother coping with changes unless you're someone with intimate knowledge of her life.

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1 hour ago, TheFireLexus said:

How can she know this? Conservatorship aside, it makes no sense to put Britney's mental state down to just being a new mother coping with changes unless you're someone with intimate knowledge of her life.

Didn't the documentary state Lynne implied Britney was suffering from postpartum depression?

And even if she wasn't, being a new mother is a major life change... even if some might feel that more than others.

 

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The way she talks about Taylor Swift, she has no room to say anything. She's been liking shady tweets about Taylor's misfortunes for years now. :coffee2:

Edited by Frogger17
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Soda Pop Queen
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But it didn’t work. People had been asking me, “Do you have a boyfriend?” in interviews since I was 6. 

Yo, I always thought this was weird when interviewers asked child actors this. They still do it, to the girls and the boys. Why should a 6 year old be worried about a boyfriend or girlfriend???

 

Peep this clip of a young Raven Symone about to gather Johnny Carson when she thought he asked about her having a boyfriend. She had apparently been asked by someone in the industry before. Smh.

 

 

 

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2 hours ago, Soda Pop Queen said:

Yo, I always thought this was weird when interviewers asked child actors this. They still do it, to the girls and the boys. Why should a 6 year old be worried about a boyfriend or girlfriend???

 

Peep this clip of a young Raven Symone about to gather Johnny Carson when she thought he asked about her having a boyfriend. She had apparently been asked by someone in the industry before. Smh.

 

 

 

I've never seen such a lovely and smart 5yo girl :allears:

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Soda Pop Queen
28 minutes ago, Ghiles said:

I've never seen such a lovely and smart 5yo girl :allears:

yea, she was a cutie patootie. 

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dirrtydiana
11 hours ago, TheFireLexus said:

How can she know this? Conservatorship aside, it makes no sense to put Britney's mental state down to just being a new mother coping with changes unless you're someone with intimate knowledge of her life.

No one knows but it doesn’t take much to see that being pregnant for literally 2 years in a row and getting divorced right after giving a second birth barely at the age of 24 can affect a person. That’s not even counting all the BS Britney had to deal with on top of that as a celebrity and all the bad things that come with that.

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TheFireLexus
16 hours ago, okgo said:

Didn't the documentary state Lynne implied Britney was suffering from postpartum depression?

And even if she wasn't, being a new mother is a major life change... even if some might feel that more than others.

 

She said she was just dealing with major life changes as in it was the only thing going on and so the "breakdown" narrative was out of place. Only Britney herself and her family and doctors can know if it was just "major life changes" or if she was actually dealing with an illness.

6 hours ago, dirrtydiana said:

No one knows but it doesn’t take much to see that being pregnant for literally 2 years in a row and getting divorced right after giving a second birth barely at the age of 24 can affect a person. That’s not even counting all the BS Britney had to deal with on top of that as a celebrity and all the bad things that come with that.

My point is that it could have been more than that. You can't really know the extent, looking from the outside.

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