Not too long ago, there was a rumor going around that Emma Watson was going to play the main character in the ill-advised 50 Shades of Gray movie that is apparently happening, much to my dismay. Watson, like the perfect lady that she always has been, dispelled the rumor on Twitter and managed to get in a few jabs at the whole fiasco at the same time, which I appreciated. But before she did, there was a massive uproar on the internet, with reactions varying between “I can’t wait to see that ass” to “HOLY GOD, NO.” As you may have guessed, I was in the latter camp, as was the vast majority of people I saw comment on the situation. Even straight men and lesbians with good taste in women were mildly revolted by the concept. I began to ask myself – why? Why are we so disgusted by the idea of seeing Emma Watson naked? After all, she’s a very beautiful woman. If it were another beautiful young woman, like Emma Stone or Anna Kendrick, I wouldn’t have minded. But Emma Watson is different somehow. Why is that?
Not to sound like a total nerd, but it all goes back to Watson’s acting roots – Harry Potter.
If you were born anytime after 1985, you probably know Harry Potter. Not everybody has read all the books or seen all the movies, but almost everyone I know has read or seen at least a couple. I personally was… a Harry Potter PERSON. It’s the same kind of thing that creates Star Wars fans, Dr. Who fans, or DC Comics fans. Harry Potter is not like other children’s entertainment. It is a cultural phenomenon, bordering on an obsession for some people. I have read every book at least ten times, and seen each movie four or five times. I have memorized whole passages. I have gone to the midnight movie openings with a tacky homemade costume. I am a member of Pottermore, J.K. Rowling’s website designed to provide supplementary materials for dedicated fans. My twelfth birthday party involved building a Chamber of Secrets in my garage. Some people take it even further, branding themselves with tattoos dedicated to Harry Potter or making the trek to the theme park devoted to the series in Orlando, Florida. Half of my friends were brought to tears by the fact that they did not receive a Hogwarts letter on their eleventh birthday. Harry Potter fans are not just invested in the world of wizardry; they are completely absorbed, entangled, entranced.
The three characters who feature in all eight of the movies, therefore, have become very well-known to us. My generation has grown up with Harry, Ron and Hermione – and by extension, Radcliffe, Grint and Watson. We have spent so much time with them it is almost like they are our siblings. We root for them when they are challenged. We fear for them when they are in danger. We even get pissed off at them when they do stupid shit. We know almost everything about them, from their eating habits to their favorite subjects. They are fixtures in our lives. And most importantly, we have been with them for a long, long time – since they were small children, only eleven years old.
Because of this relationship we have with them, I would argue that a sexual attraction to Emma Watson, for some of us, registers as almost incestual. We knew her when she was prepubescent, for God’s sake. Even though we are of course not related to her by blood, the condition of having grown up in her presence, so to speak, puts her off-limits for desire. It is the same reason why spending one’s entire childhood with a distant cousin or a foster sibling would make a sexual relationship with that person inappropriate. The human brain is not programmed to be attracted to people that one has grown up with. It remembers the child inside them and reminds you of it while you are trying to get a woody for them, and that is totally fucked up. And Watson is one of very few celebrities who suffer from this curse. There are other actors who began as child actors to whom this rule doesn’t apply. Take Miley Cyrus, for example. She was what – thirteen when she made her debut on the Disney channel? But here’s the catch: nobody that is in any position to be attracted to Miley Cyrus was watching her TV show. The same goes for the Olsen twins. They can go sex themselves up all they want, for all I care; I’ve never watched Full House in my life. I have no connection to that childlike part of them. Not so with the Potter crew.
I’m not saying you are automatically a monstrous pedophile if you find Watson hot. For example, my boyfriend is 32. He was already driving a car when the first Harry book came out, and probably considered himself far too manly for such things. At this point in his life, he is secure enough in his masculinity to watch the movies with me, and he finds the older Emma Watson desirable. It’s because he never developed that sibling relationship with her. The same goes for some of my friends who are my age, but for whatever reason never knew or wanted to know the beauty of Harry Potter. They discovered Watson much later in life, perhaps in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Perfectly natural to find her sexually attractive then.
So please, Hollywood: be gentle with us. I’m not saying that Watson shouldn’t be allowed to play more adult roles if she wants to, I’m just saying you may in fact be a pervert if you whack off to it. There is no need for her to be overtly objectified and exploited. I definitely won’t be ready to see Emma Watson naked until she is at least in her forties, and her massive volume of work has pushed the bushy-haired, snub-nosed little girl she once was out of our minds completely. I don’t want to think about her chirping, “Wingaaaaardium Leviooooosaaaa!” while I’m watching her get hate-fucked by Christian Gray. The very idea makes me want to crawl into my bed for the next year or so.