Natalia Dyer, who portrays Nancy Wheeler on the Netflix series “Stranger Things,” is speaking out against the sexualization of her younger co-stars.
“I feel protective of the ‘Stranger Things’ kids – they’re oversexualized in the media, even though they’re not kids anymore; they’re teens,” says Dyer, 25, in an interview with The Independent. Adding, “They’re all great people and all having to grow up in very crazy circumstances. As a private person, I just feel like leaving people alone — unless you’re talking about their work or what they want to talk about.”
Dyer’s remarks arrive after Netflix received rigorous criticism across social media over the sexually explicit promotional materials for the French film “Cuties.” The film is about a young girl who joins a dance troupe, showing tweens dancing seductively and who are scantly dressed.
In a statement to Deadline, the streaming service issued an apology.
“We’re deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for ‘Cuties’. It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which premiered at Sundance. We’ve now updated the pictures and description.”
Parents Television Council president Tom Winter condemned the movie in a statement saying the film is to “sexualize children and to fuel the appetites of those who would feed on the sexualization of children.”
Dyer is not the only person from the series calling out the mainstream culture.
Millie Bobby Brown plays the character Eleven on the show, and at the age of only 13, W magazine listed her one of the reasons TV is “sexier than ever.” She was ranked among other actresses like Nicole Kidman.
“There are moments I get frustrated from the inaccuracy, inappropriate comments, sexualization, and unnecessary insults that ultimately have resulted in pain and insecurity for me,” Brown wrote on Instagram earlier this year. “I feel like change needs to happen for not only this generation but the next.”
Sexualizing young actors is a cultural problem, and “there must be a bigger concept behind it as to why,” says Dyer in closing.
She’s right, it is a cultural issue. But also a heart issue and a moral issue we face in entertainment and in our world.