Mena Suvari and the Hollywood Child Rape Culture

Kevin Spacey and Mena Suvari in American Beauty

It’s wise to consider human nature in all things. For all the societal norms, cultural customs, and etiquette standards we’ve constructed as a people, nothing overrides human nature. A child rapist doesn’t seek out employment at an old folk’s home. They go where the hunting is good. That doesn’t mean every dude who chooses to work with kids is a child predator; it does mean you ought to be extra suspicious of men who self-select themselves into these positions.

We decided about 100 years ago that having children work was unseemly, unwise, and looked pretty bad for what was fast becoming the most advanced country on the planet. Today, we mock the idea of kids working in Chinese factories. We had those once. But no longer. Try finding a legal job for your 11-year old that’s not a lemonade stand or mowing your neighbor’s lawn. Neither of which are officially licensed. Children can’t work in this country. Except for one little carve-out: entertainment.

We let children work in performing arts and modeling and similar positions where adult dwarves simply won’t suffice. For the sake of the industry, legislators decided that this one business sector could have child labor. To preten they were still concerned, politicians made lots of rules about conduct and work hours and making sure fake private tutors were around to stand in for school. Still, you could take a Miley Cyrus at twelve and cast her as the star of a television show and make her the full-time, breadwinner of her extended family. Achy Breaky Heart only pays so many royalties, especially when your contribution was to smile and cover the song.

Child actors, singers, and performers like Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato started even younger. Both were both breaking in at seven on Barney & Friends. Demi Lovato had an eating disorder by eight. Selena Gomez let Justin Bieber take her virginity. Take your pick as to which one of those consequences of being a kid actor sounds more wretched.

If you’ve ever had the misfortune to grab lunch at a coffee shop near Burbank studios and casting offices, you’ve seen hordes of kids preparing for tryouts and casting calls. Some are local. Most are from out of state. The kids are universally precocious, converse like grownups, and treat their parents as if they are business partners in an oil and natural gas venture. Which they essentially are. The kids are obnoxious. But they weren’t born that way.

There was a time we let kids do adult work. Then we decided, Jesus, this is disturbing. And we stopped.

The parents are to blame. The Oompa Loompas figured this out years ago. Avarice in business is admirable. Not so much when the product your selling is your children. Couch it as “Aimee is an amazing singer” all you want. Aimee is seven and you’re trying to transition her from a normal second grader into a 1099 income source for the family. Peddling Aimee should not be your backup plan to a failed MLM income stream. Every stage parent will be quick to tell you their kids love this work. Kids also love candy and driving the family Chevy at nine. Reasonable parents set limits. Stage parents set income targets and start picking out floor samples for their bigger house.

We’ve read about young athletes badly abused by team coaches and doctors. Like little kid entertainers, young kid athletes have been trained to follow orders. They are taught that hard work and pain is part of life. Which is true. For adults. Visit a competitive kids gymnastics training center sometime. It’s freaky. I saw a mom yelling at her eight-year-old with a leg cast to get back on the balance beam. Is that slave kid going to fight the handsy team doctor who tells her to be quiet during unnecessary pelvic exams? What would her coach think? Best to keep quiet.

Stage parents turn a blind eye. Nobody wants to make waves. Nobody wants to be tossed off the ladder to the big score for their kid. Making the team. Or in the case of Hollywood, being cast in a Disney Kids show or a movie or put into some bizarro-o “Cuties” kid dance team that runs the adolescent version of a Tijuana donkey show for truly troubled dance moms. It’s usually the moms pushing this, for money, or some perverse reliving of their own failed childhoods. It’s gross. But for all the judgmental moms in this world, none seem to hone in on this bit of indecent behavior.

Entertainment and modeling kids are worse off than athlete kids because their talents are entirely subjective. LeBron was going to be a future superstar based on his physical gifts. It wasn’t between LeBron and a far more attractive but slow kid with no vertical leap for the path to $500 million in NBA contracts. LeBron’s highly unique physical talents gave him the upper hand in relationships from an early age. In Hollywood or New York casting calls, there are hundreds of cute kids. They can all sing and dance and were blessed only with the ability to do a touching monologue from Twelve Years a Slave. It used to be tapdancing to Annie, but times have changed.

Can you even imagine how many young women show up to try and garner the role of scared, eventually topless girlfriend in a Michael Bay Friday the 13th movie?

In the adult casting world, when one-hundred hot blondes show up to try out for the same Michael Bay movie role, someone fat and gross in the production chain is getting a hummer. Read the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault claims in nauseating detail if you’d like to know exactly how it goes down. Weinstein skated for 25 years, not just skated, but the toast of the town, including praise from high profile self-described feminists. Now imagine the same crass and disturbing people casting or agenting little kids in the same desperate labor market position. It’s estimated that 20,000 kids try out for parts every year. A thousand will ever see any paid work.

The predators can pick any child actor or dancer or singer they choose. They’re non-scarce commodities. That provides creeps in the system tremendous power over a family and a child who has enrolled themselves in the “I’m ambitious and desperate club”. It’s like injured seals showing up to a shark party. Except the general public becomes upset when seals are harmed. Stage kids not so much. There’s a coldness that’s applied to kid actors that ought to be attached only to their parents. But that’s not how it works in the real world. People find the kid actor horrible. Because they’ve never met the parents.

And thus sets the perfect table for the rape-fest. Rape isn’t always sexual, though it often is. It’s an expression of dominance and exploitation. Not all the kid actors in Hollywood are sexually assaulted; almost all of them are raped. The one layer of protection they might have from this onslaught is their parents, often standing on the sidelines cheering the process on. Or in the case of Ariel Winter from Modern Family, being put into a miniskirt and lipstick at twelve and dropped off at Hollywood Hills parties to “get acquainted” with the producer set. Imagine not being a meth-addict and thinking that’s okay to do to your daughter.

Everybody knows the name, Roman Polanski. Most vaguely know he fled the U.S. for France after facing charges for child sexual assault. Few people know the name, Samantha Geimer. She’s the 13-year old girl who Polanski gave booze and pills and sodomized in Jack Nicholson’s hot tub. No, Jack wasn’t there at the time. But how did Samantha get there? Her mom dropped her off. Hoping she’d catch a career break. We don’t talk about that part much because we can kind of handle gross pedophile foreign filmmaker perv dude. Moms setting their children up to be raped is particularly unfathomable.

Ultimately, Mena Suvari played the least memorable female character in American Pie. Though the competition was stacked with Shannon Elizabeth, Tara Reid, Alyson Hannigan, and Stifler’s Mom.

Mena Suvari is perhaps most well known for her role as the teen object of middle-aged loser Kevin Spacey’s desire in 1999’s American Beauty. A year later Suvari was one of the stars of the hit teen-sex comedy, American Pie, playing the girl who turns Chris Klein’s character into a boy sweet enough to deserve to lose his virginity. Because that’s how sex works in movie high schools. Or the opposite of real high school where nice guys invariably finish last in the sexual dalliances department.

Suvari began working professionally as a preteen model. The modeling work eventually turned into TV roles in Boy Meets World on Disney and a bunch of other teen role appearances before her break innto those big movies. Now at 42, like so many before her, Suvari is detailing a litany of sexually abusive situations and drug use and addiction she suffered as the cute kid in and around that modeling and Hollywood world.

Suvari talks about being raped at 12 by somebody known to her family. Like so many before her, she got into very serious narcotics use. By 17 she was dating an older dude in Hollywood who was pushing her into threesomes where she contracted an STD. This went on while she was filming American Beauty, where Kevin Spacey bent his sexual gender preferences for a turn at an easy mark. She claims he’d ask her to come to his trailer to cuddle so they could get more into character. By 21 Suvari was married to a cinematographer twice her age, her first of three marriages, as the drugs and movie work continued until she fell into complete mental disrepair.

Suvari’s story tracks with only about a million other former kid actors and models, almost all of whom spill out horrific tales of young-age abuse at the hands of the entertainment industry and the predators who insert themselves into positions of power. That’s anywhere from the casting agents, producers, kid acting teachers, drug dealers, and other older actors who themselves were probably sexually or otherwise abused as kids as well. Two former Disney kids stars alone were arrested last month for soliciting minors for sex. Where you do think they learned that kind of behavior?

Charlie Sheen and Corey Haim in Lucas, 1986

Corey Feldman clais that his Corey-buddy Corey Haim was raped by Charlie Sheen on the set of the movie Lucas when he was thirteen. Sheen denies it. Haim spun out into his own world of mental health and drug addiction. Corey Feldman himself routinely comes out with accusations against pedophiles in Hollywood from his own time as a kid actor. Feldman starred in Stand By Me alongside Will Wheaton, who is now sharing his own tales of childhood abuse. River Phoenix from that same movie died at 23 from a drug overdose. Perhaps worst of all, Jerry O’Connell who played the fat kid Vern is now becoming the first male host of The Talk on daytime television. Though he did marry Rebecca Romijn, so half-blessed. Still, I’m not sure where you work, but I bet 75% of the people there aren’t being sexually abused, depressed, and using narcotics to self-medicate their pain.

Every one of these kids grows up so messed up, mentally ill, on drugs, often arrested or with a history of psychiatric holds, so nobody takes them seriously. Kind of the perfect crime if you think about it. Rape a kid until they’re so visibly screwed up, they make for an easily discredited witness. It’s a horror that has played out in Hollywood decade after decade, with only the names of the poorly-funded organizations unsuccessfully trying to fight it changing.

I write about the endless cases of child sex abuse among this group of children every few years because I feel somewhat committed to the whole “see something, say something” public safety mantra. Especially in an area where everybody sees something and nobody says a thing. Whether it be Larry Nassar sexually assaulting female gymnasts for years in his position as team doctor or Eliza Dushku sharing how she was raped as a kid on the set of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s True Lies and told by every adult involved in the movie to keep quiet. Imagine that response to being twelve and having a full-grown stunt man sexually assault you in a closet. At twelve I was pissed when they raised the price of Fantastic Four comics by ten cents and the store owner told me to can it. Can a kid actors seemingly spoiled childhood be tougher than yours? Yes.

Cosby ear and toe raped dozens of drugged women across decades. People knew and they won’t say a word. Like they did about Weinstein and Spacey. And they know about what’s happening to kids and teen actors and models. Girls, boys, both, with equal Caligulan fervor. Director Victor Salva, who wrote the movie Powder from prison after being convicted of sexually grooming and assaulting and filming an eleven-year-old boy actor, continues to work in Hollywood post-prison release. Who allows that? If Victor Salva had done the same to a sea turle, he would’ve been driven out of town forever. Not to mention be put on a Greenpeace watch list.

The list of kid actors who have had the courage to share their stories of abuse, sexual assaults, and gross adult behavior, including their money-hungry and co-conspiring parents, is endless. While many were working and being exploited as quite young children, puberty is about the time most of them became the targets of entertainment industry pedophiles and pederasts laying in the weeds.

Anthony Edwards got his big break playing Gilbert, nerd buddy to the more adventurous Lewis, played by Robert Carradine in 1984’s Revenge of the Nerds.

Producer Gary Goddard is a classic example. In the past few years, many now-grown male actors, including Anthony Edwards of E.R. and Revenge of the Nerds fame, talk about Goddard sexually grooming and raping him and other boys who were in plays Goddard produced in L.A. to shine a light on young talent. Convenient. Goddard was also a movie writer and producer of teen-oriented content in the 1980s. He directed Master of the Universe, the original He-Man live-action movie. Latter-day, at least eight former boy-proteges of his came out with extensively detailed stories of his seduction and selection of trouble young teen boys lacking parental guidance in their lives. No different than the Catholic priest sex scandal. These guys are not random in their choice of targets any more than lions on the savannah picking off the weak and helpless in the herd. Children are easy targets. With their parents smiling and egging on the attackers, beyond easy.

Wherever you see a former kid actor or entertainer, you see a highly troubled pathology. Failed adult lives — bad choices, failed relationships, mental health issues, hardcore drug use, death or arrest. The Britney Spears question shouldn’t be, is she super crazy enough to require her dad to be her life custodian at 39? It’s, how the hell did she get into such a state of crazy? Are we supposed to believe there’s a huge and random coincidence between kids who land roles on Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club and aberrant dormant genes for mental health and drug addiction?

The rational mind would look at Demi Lovato at 25 being raped by her drug dealer and nearly offing herself with heroin, meth, and oxy and say, she wasn’t born this way, she was made this way. Why did Nickelodeon former kid-star Amanda Bynes pour gasoline on her dog and start a fire in some stranger’s driveway? Why was Todd Bridges from Different Strokes struggling to live day to day as a young adult? Oh, yeah, his publicist used to stick his hand down Bridges’s pants at twelve. We had creepy random men around when I was a kid. None that my parents let take me away for a weekend to a beach house to help my career. We had YMCA volunteer counselors for that.

A simple Google search will give you endless reams of similar stories. And that’s merely the kid actors and models who are talking. And still alive. Is nobody else looking at outcome rates? Kids raised in Third World war-torn hellholes are doing better as adults. We have twelve police officers monitoring Robert Kraft’s strip mall handjobs under the convoluted guise of stopping sex trafficking. What about just one cop to investigate the child predators in Hollywood? Maybe two if you wisely station one at all Bryan Singer pool parties.

There are arrests from time to time. But few and and far between. The vast majority stick around for decades, protected in a cocoon of sympathetic cover ups by peers so scared of judging or being judged or upsetting their position in the system, they remain mum. Most of the kids who “told” report being rejected by everyone, told they were lying, faced with aggressive and expensive lawyers, total lack of support, and ostracization from the industry. Rose McGowan is the one person in Hollywood who stood up as an adult to Harvey Weinstein, and she’s verifiably nuts. The sane ones cowled in silence.

This isn’t a wacky story of some wacky conspiracy or urban legend about “the pervs of Hollywood”. This is the tale of an industry, the only one in the country allowed to employ children, that, as you might imagine, exploits the hell out of them. If we still had kids rolling into coal mines on the morning shift, they too would be worthy of similar concern. But we outlawed that a long time ago. This one remains. Neverending.