‘Wednesday’ fans, we need to talk about the creepy fetishization of Jenna Ortega

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This article addresses issues related to sexualization that may be uncomfortable; please take care while reading.

Jenna Ortega is a talented, confident powerhouse of an actress; at just 20 years old, she’s embarking upon an incredible career with the potential to grace our screens for decades to come. Channeling everything from Disney’s magic to the Scream franchise’s horror, Ortega is multifaceted and ready to take on whatever comes her way. Within reason.

What she couldn’t have prepared for was a creepy subculture of “fans” whose fixation veers into problematic and outright predatory territory.

Entertainment figures can be seen as “choosing this lifestyle” and forced to feel like they’re always “on.” For some, that means answering fan questions and being stopped for photos when they’re just trying to enjoy dinner with family. For Ortega, she was deemed the sexy “it” girl, a role she was cast in before she reached the age of consent.

The thing about feeling sexy is that it’s about you owning yourself; when Ortega herself posts an image on Instagram in a negligee, she’s got every right.

In a society where it’s easy to find a thousand reasons to feel defeated in a single afternoon, it’s empowering to take a picture or a video where you feel that immediate confidence. That’s the sex appeal that should be most applauded. Of course, some fandoms know how to respectfully and beautifully lift up their favorite celebs, like the fans of another in the Addams Family realm, Christina Ricci. There are Imgur galleries and posts dedicated to our Wednesday Addams of yore that pay homage to the stellar, phenomenally talented, gorgeous woman she is without taking it to the level of nightmare fuel.

Issues arise when images from professional shoots and stills from film and television, particularly those of Ortega as a minor, become fodder for randos to publicly voice predatory, disturbing sexual content. A subreddit called JennaOrtegaLust is one example (and we’ll warn you here — please approach at your own risk). From violent fantasies to demands for her to “service” some of these commentators, it’s overwhelming as a reader; we can’t imagine it would be enjoyable for her to stumble across them.

The sheer number of adults in entertainment who sexualize minors is staggering, and the after-effects are real. Natalie Portman recently shared how the experience shaped her, and on an honest and vulnerable note, she says that it led to lasting damage, and she’s not alone. Anna Farris, Kate Moss, Megan Fox, and Mara Wilson — to name a few — have all spoken about how being seen as an object can impact a slew of aspects of your life. It’s not just the primary ways you might think; it can affect a larger frame of mind and existence for you as years go by.

Wilson even shared a call to stop sexualizing young actresses back in 2017, but a more significant change has yet to be made, and meanwhile, the denigrating social media fixation on objectifying young people normalizes actual harm.

Here’s an important question: Hey Redditors, at what point do comment sections get too exploitative for Reddit to deem them allowable? Comments can be hidden, and you could, if you choose, argue for freedom of speech; but some of the statements made about Ortega are beyond “borderline” sexual harassment and are clearly harmful. We should feel safe logging into a social media platform without having to worry about seeing comments that are not just uncomfortable, but could impact the mental health for some readers, particularly survivors of CSA and other forms of sexual violence.

If you’ve ever been in a situation where you’ve been sexually exploited or assaulted, some of what you might see could trigger something in your mind as you scroll through threads and images. There should be a conscious understanding of that, and an effort made to stop it.

As we watch her in Wednesday or Scream or any other project Ortega is involved in, we’d do well to remember this: If we can prevent anyone from becoming permanently traumatized by a culture of unchecked sexual objectification of minors, it would sure behoove us — and Reddit — to do so.