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BOZTEPE: Adults portraying kids on big screen may have consequences

Opinions Column: Kaanotations

How awkward would it be if adults acted and dressed as high school students and attended high school? Exactly, it just does not work. If adult actors continue to play roles that should be played by teens, the teens who view these shows will continue to subconsciously be negatively affected. The fact that the adult actors are normally fully grown, acne free and fitter than the average 14 to 18-year-old student causes the perception of what a teenager should look like become skewed to society. 

In the United States, 73 percent of teenagers ages 12 to 18 have access to a smartphone. This means that more than half of the teenage population in the United States has access to a smartphone. Teenagers between those ages now have access to follow their favorite “high school actors” on social media as most tend to see them as their idols or role models. But this means that teenagers would normally consider what these adult actors do as normal things all teens do. This would consist of things such as extensive workouts, drinking alcohol or doing drugs since they are of legal age and dressing most probably appropriate for their age, yet not the age of a 13 or 14-year-old teen girl. Many celebrities do not tend to hide the use of alcohol or drugs on their social media to a point where it seems to be glamorized. The adult actors tend to be on very strict diets and workout regimens, which in their case is usually alright and under control as they have the best specialists helping them maintain their physique and health. Although, for those teenagers that idolize the actors and their physique, this can be damaging for the normal teenagers' self-images and self-esteems, and can lead to illnesses or even eating disorders. 

One of the lead characters in "Riverdale," Josise, played by Ashleigh Murray, is 29 years old. Out of the entire main cast, there is not one character that is younger than the age of 19. Add this to the dictation the characters use, the unrealistic high school life style and drama, and teenagers are due for constant questioning as to why their high school lives are nothing close to what they continuously watch. This can lead to many forms and severity of anxiety and depression as teenagers continue to question why they do not look like their idols, have the excitement the actors have in their show in their own lives and why they become much more self-conscious of their height, weight, looks and anything else that concerns their appearances.

Opponents of this view may argue that it would be too demanding on the children and teenagers and more difficult to get them to work longer hours due to union rules and labor laws. While I understand and do see the concern, actors of all ages have contract standards, union rules and labor laws. And the laws are much more lenient than one would assume. I believe that is more than a sufficient amount of time, especially since most of the hit shows among teens that are being played by adult actors are only having two to three recordings per week. It also has to be said that teenagers get breaks in school where they are able to film extra and ahead of time, schedules are flexible as some days are just rehearsal or reading days and by law they cannot exceed the union rules and labor laws. If it is the teenagers goal to act, then this most definitely will not affect their social or school life as they will be making friends on stage and in school, have days off for friends and family and will also be able to continue following their acting dream. 

Having television teen characters played by adult actors is very harmful for teen viewers. Teenagers must play teenager roles on television in order for these things not to occur, and contrary to the opposing view, teenage actors have more than enough time to balance acting with their school and social lives as I discussed before. 

Kaan Jon Boztepe is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore double majoring in philosophy and history. His column, "Kaanotations," runs on alternate Fridays. 


*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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