In recent decades, the male movie-star business has come to be dominated by actors such as Leonardo DiCaprio who were child actors. Getting a start early in life on a specialization has become common practice among the children of ambitious adults. For example, 41-year-old Tiger Woods has been swinging a golf club for over 40 years…except recently, when both his body and brain seem to have become sick of golf.
My proposal that professional acting on screen should eventually have an age minimum of, say, 18 would have been completely unimaginable technologically until recently.
The 2011 movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes, however, demonstrated that the entertainment industry doesn’t need to import chimpanzees any longer. As Jane Goodall has pointed out, we should stop stealing cute baby chimps from their mothers in the jungle just to have a short career in entertainment before they become ugly and uncontrollable at puberty at age 8.
Instead, we can put Andy Serkis in a motion-capture suit to jump around and have computer-generated-imagery technicians paint in the fur.
Similarly, in this year’s hit Guardians of the Galaxy sequel, the movie is stolen by Baby Groot, an adorable toddler version of the sentient alien tree from the first movie who never says anything but “I am Groot.” Vin Diesel handles the dialogue, such as it is, while director James Gunn dances around in the Groot suit.
In the past, CGI human depictions have often fallen into the “uncanny valley,” but skills are rapidly improving. Martin Scorsese is currently shooting a gangster film, The Irishman, for release in 2019. He intends to use CGI to “de-age” his cast of over-the-hill legends—Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci (coming out of retirement), Al Pacino, and Harvey Keitel—so they can play younger versions of themselves.
If Scorsese’s de-aging gambit succeeds for his senior-citizen cast (which is not a sure thing—finding financing for this expensive movie was a challenge), then de-aging adult actors into onscreen children should be feasible as well. If so, then banning children from appearing in high-budget movies and television by, say, 2025 and lower-budget productions by, say, 2030 would seem feasible.
As Hollywood scandals suggest, there will always be a certain number of adventurers and adventuresses willing to do whatever it takes for a shot at stardom. Why not make sure that children aren’t included in that number?
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