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Adults: Thirsting Over Underage Characters is Weird

Entertainment

Adults: Thirsting Over Underage Characters is Weird

Adults: Thirsting Over Underage Characters is Weird

While many fictional underage characters are portrayed or voiced by adults, they are meant to be conceptualized and viewed as minors. So why do so many adult fans take no issue in sexualizing or thirsting over them?

Created Characters: Hobie Brown aka Spider-Punk

Hobie Brown aka Spider-Punk unmasked in Across the Spider-Verse

Much like minor characters being portrayed in live-action by adults, it’s not uncommon to find minor characters drawn or designed to be idealized or sexualized. Since the release of Sony’s Across the Spider-Verse, the sequel to Into the Spider-Verse, many fans have been very vocal about their love for Spider-Punk, aka Hobie Brown, voiced by Daniel Kaluuya. Many of those fans, adult ones, have expressed an attraction toward his unmasked design. Given that the film very heavily implies a potential relationship or romantic or physical encounter between Hobie and Spider-Gwen, it is highly likely that Hobie is close to her age, if not exactly her age.

Miles is directly confirmed to be fifteen in the film, Gwen is mentioned to be fifteen months older and is likely sixteen or barely seventeen. The movie never mentions Hobie’s age. Fans have sworn that he is between seventeen and nineteen, and others claim he is in his thirties. Aging Hobie up in some fans’ minds seems to be an attempt to absolve the creep factor of crushing on a potential minor. To him being “thirty”, one might ask: would that make the implication of some kind of relationship between him and a sixteen-year-old better? Even if nothing happened actually, the mention of Gwen hanging out with Hobie alone and leaving a toothbrush would immediately become inappropriate if he is an adult and she is still a minor (though if she is indeed seventeen, seventeen is, in fact, the age of consent in New York; yet still… what does a mid-twentysomething or thirtysomething have in common with a seventeen-year-old?).

Ambiguous age aside, the thirst and sexualization of underage characters are interesting in the sense that they are completely and utterly created. Artists can draw characters to look any way they want in animation, manga, anime, comics, video games, etc. And they often opt to use the most idealized body and face types for most of them. But something every adult should realize when it comes to minors in real life: just because someone has a chiseled face, nice hair, nice muscles, or curves, doesn’t take away the fact that they are actually underage or at least too damn young for you (depending on your age). Fans who are minors or very young adults need not worry. But the rest of you know who you are.

The Age Discrepancy of Miles Morales

(Upper left) Miles Morales in his debut comic appearance, (upper right) Miles in subsequent comic appearances, (lower left) Miles in Into the Spider-Verse, (lower right) Miles in Insomniac’s Spider-Man games.

Miles looked easily twelve years old when he first appeared in Ultimate Fallout #4, which was also his first ever appearance. Subsequently, he seems to be aging up into an older and older teen. While sexualization might not necessarily be the reason, it seems that many of Miles’ romantic subplots began popping up more and more as this was happening. Meanwhile, the character is only fifteen as of the sequel of his animated film appearances, while he is seventeen in his solo video game.

It is odd that Miles ages while most other comic characters don’t. This seems to only be a phenomenon for minor characters. Once most comic characters reach their prime (assuming they weren’t established there from the start), they are ageless unless a storyline wants them to be older (a la Old Man Logan). Nevertheless, this in and of itself is not an issue as creators can switch up ages (even occasionally de-aging characters, like that time Storm of the X-Men got de-aged by the evil Nanny) as they see fit. However, it can quickly get creepy and gross when fan art depicts… adult situations for underage characters we were introduced to as fresh-faced preteens or teens not that long ago. Not to mention the many fan artists who depict Batman hooking up with his adoptive children, but that’s another conversation. Just don’t be creepy y’all.

So Are Minors Played by Adults Fair Game then?

Several of the characters from the tv series Euphoria

Sexualized minors and people thirsting over them are nothing new. HBO’s Euphoria has been especially controversial for the graphic nudity and sexual content involving minor characters. Defenders of the series point out that these characters are not only played by adults but that the intended audience is actually adults. Many argue that it is meant to be a “callback” to a time in some folks’ pasts when they might have experienced some of these issues. As Kennie J.D. pointed out in her reasons for being interested in the series, these are still characters meant to be seen and conceptualized as minors. The show is asking us to suspend our disbelief to view these characters as minors.

Plus, there is no such thing as “real” curated work, despite what some defenders claim. If you can identify with or feel seen by this series, that’s wonderful, but I can promise you that Sam Levinson, first of all, as a mid-thirties white man knows nothing of the struggles of a biracial teen girl. We can start there. Also, we don’t need to see explicit nudity or sex to know that kids bathe in the nude or that some of them have sex sometimes. We don’t need to see explicit sex on screen with minor characters to know sex has happened.

Euphoria isn’t the first explicit depiction of minors having sex or being nude, and it probably won’t be the last. Other network shows have had ample teen sex and sexualization with adults in these roles. In addition to the overall creep factor of seeing these people as teens, it also sets up unrealistic body and sexual expectations for any minors who might see them.

As these characters are played by adults, it is technically less creepy to crush on them. But it still is creepy to keep sexualizing minors and treating their relationships and encounters in a very adult manner.

In Conclusion

We don’t know how old Hobie is in these movies, so thirst with caution, or better yet try to admire without thirsting until you do. Miles’ age seems to change to either make him more palatable to adult fans or make him prime for more romantic storylines (as if we couldn’t have cutesy-puppy love storylines for younger characters). Also, while minors played by adults are less creepy if you engage in cognitive dissonance, they are still meant to be seen as minors in-universe, so it still is. It also makes actual minors feel like something is wrong if they look like actual minors, and that’s not okay.

From Beverly Hills 90210, to Buffy, to various western animation series and anime, to Riverdale and Euphoria, we have seen teens and minors depicted as sexual and overtly sexualized, and this will likely always be the case, but adults should be more mindful of how they engage with these characters and this material because while in real life the performers are (usually, though not always) adults, the characters themselves are not. Physicality aside (the adult actors I mean), who wants to fuck high school students if you’re over the age of nineteen? And even then… let’s not pretend like even in high school it wasn’t gauche to date/hook up with underclassmen. At least for me, I had nothing in common with no damn sophomore or freshman when I was a senior.

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I identify as a womanist. I am also gay. I am a Black American-Descendant of American Chattel Slavery. My pronouns are he/him/his, and I am a comics, tv, movie, and video game stan. My expertise for comics and related media are DC Comics, Marvel Comics, Archie Comics, and a little bit of others here and there, but I'm hoping to branch out to other, Blacker and indie comics and related content. I'm a binge watcher and can talk about shows for days. You can find me on YouTube and various other social media platforms as thaboiinblue.

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