Wow. Just wow.
In a new interview with Taylor Lautner, the 17-year-old newly buffed-out star of The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Rolling Stone magazine didn’t just quiz on him on rumors that he might be gay — when he declined to talk about whether he is dating Taylor Swift, they pressed him on whether he might be gay and hasn’t quite admitted it to himself:
“Another possibility is that maybe you’re just sort of discovering yourself,”
Rolling Stone asked.
“OK,” Taylor said.
”…As a young person trying to figure out his sexual identity in the world,”
the mag continued.
“OK. I see where you’re going,” he said during the interview. “Interesting
“It is a possibility,” the mag said.
The interview isn’t available online, and while it’s supposedly on newsstands today, it wasn’t in any of the Seattle stores I checked. But if the above quotes are accurate, this line of questioning strikes me as almost unimaginably irresponsible. These are the kind of questions that might be appropriate for a therapist’s couch or a heart-to-heart with a parent or best friend.
But a magazine interview with a 17-year-old actor?
In most cases, it’s not the job of a media outlet to look out for the interests of its interview subject. It’s the job of the media to tell the relevant truth.
But Lautner is a kid.
I have absolutely no reason to think that Lautner is gay. Even by Rolling Stone writer Neil Strauss’ own warped reasoning, there can’t be any substance to the "rumors"; if he’s just "discovering" himself, as Strauss alleges, there wouldn’t be any evidence anyway, unless, perhaps, he’s stolen the actor’s journal.
The "rumors" are all baseless, prurient speculation on the part of certain blogs and internet fans.
Which is fine. When an underage actor (and his guardians) decide to take a high-profile role like the one Lautner plays in New Moon, they have to know that such gossip goes with the territory.
But for a so-called "legitimate" media outlet like Rolling Stone to legitimize that gossip, and then press Lautner for some kind of explanation?
Again, wow. Just wow.
Let’s play a little thought experiment: what if it had turned out that Strauss and the magazine was right that Lautner is gay, or is questioning that he might be, but hasn’t really come to terms with it yet? And what if he had been honest about that during that Rolling Stone interview? God knows he wouldn’t be the first 17-year-old to do something stupid — or to say something he later regrets.
Sure, it would have made a great story for Rolling Stone. And — who knows? — it might have eventually resulted in another proud, out gay actor, this one at the peak of his career.
On the other hand, it might also have destroyed Lautner, professionally and personally. Can you imagine the media firestorm if a teen heartthrob admitted something like that in the midst of doing publicity for a major movie like New Moon? It would have made headlines and been fodder for late-night comedians for weeks.
Out celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and Neil Patrick Harris have since admitted how stressful it was to come out. And they were established celebrities, long familiar with in the nuances and impact of media exposure and knowing full-well exactly what they were doing, and prepared (as much as you can be) for what came next.
Here’s what’s key: they were also adults. The absolute line we’ve drawn between "child" and "adult" might be somewhat arbitrary, but the existence of such a line is there for a good reason. Can there really be anyone who honestly thinks otherwise?
Next Page! Yeah, yeah, AfterElton.com is advocating "censorship"… Pu-leeze!