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Cole Sprouse says his female Disney co-stars were 'heavily sexualized' at a young age

Cole Sprouse
Actor Cole Sprouse attends the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party following the 94th Oscars at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, California on March 27, 2022. |

Former Disney Channel actor Cole Sprouse recently revealed that when he broke into the industry, he witnessed his female co-stars being sexually exploited at an early age, which, he said, is something that he and his twin brother didn't endure. 

Sprouse has been in the national spotlight since he was a child, starring in films and popular network sitcoms. He and his brother, Dylan, also starred in the Disney series “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.” During an interview with The New York Times, Sprouse, who quit acting to attend New York University, where he obtained a degree in archaeology, said people often marvel at how he and his brother made it through the industry "unscathed."

“My brother and I used to get quite a bit of, ‘Oh, you made it out! Oh, you’re unscathed!’ No,” Sprouse told the publication when asked why it is that some young stars spiral. 

“The young women on the channel we were on [Disney Channel] were so heavily sexualized from such an earlier age than my brother and I that there’s absolutely no way that we could compare our experiences,” he continued. “And every single person going through that trauma has a unique experience.”

The 29-year-old said “fame is a trauma” for many child stars.

“So I’m violently defensive against people who mock some of the young women who were on the channel when I was younger because I don’t feel like it adequately comprehends the humanity of that experience and what it takes to recover,” Spouse explained.

“And, to be quite honest, as I have now gone through a second big round of this fame game as an adult, I’ve noticed the same psychological effects that fame yields upon a group of young adults as I did when I was a child. I just think people have an easier time hiding it when they’re older.”

The “Big Daddy” actor who has been in the entertainment industry since he and his brother were 18 months old, said that he and his brother were “burned out” by the time they turned 18.

At the behest of his manager, after graduating from NYU, Sprouse went out on one more round of auditions before deciding to quit the industry.  He got the role of Jughead Jones on the CW drama “Riverdale” and decided to continue acting. 

Now back in the spotlight, Sprouse revealed that although he enjoys acting, he doesn't enjoy the industry. 

“I started acting when I was so young that I hadn’t actually attempted, as an adult, to think about if I really enjoyed performance,” Sprouse said. “When I returned, I reminded myself that I do very much love the art of acting. But I still have a very complicated relationship to celebrity culture.”

In recent months, Disney has been more overt in the sexualization of its content. The “family” branded streaming service Disney Plus announced that it will now feature content for mature audiences by streaming several Marvel TV series rated TV-MA. "Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones,” “Luke Cage,” “Iron Fist,” “The Defenders,” “The Punisher” and “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” are available in the United States, along with several other countries.

Along with saturating its streaming service with mature content, Disney has been slowly promoting LGBT storylines in its children's programming nearly a decade after the activist organization GLAAD began pushing for more shows depicting same-sex couples and parents back in 2013.

Last month, Christopher Rufo of City Journal and the Manhattan Institute shared video footage that showed Disney officials discussing efforts to incorporate LGBT ideology into programming directed at children.

In one video clip, Latoya Raveneau, an executive producer at Disney, talked about how she had worked to include her “not-at-all secret gay agenda” in the company’s “Proud Family” reboot. She admitted that she was “basically adding queerness” to the children’s programming “wherever I could” because “no one would stop me” and “no one was trying to stop me.”

In another video, Disney production coordinator Allen March spoke about what he viewed as the need for “canonical trans characters, canonical asexual characters [and] canonical bisexual characters” to have “stories where they can … be their whole selves.” In a separate video, March acknowledged that Disney and other media have the ability to use content to influence the minds of the next generation.

Disney’s "Beauty and the Beast" and "Doc McStuffins" in 2018 are early examples of the over-sexualization depicted in children's content. 

In 2020, Disney’s Pixar animation studio featured its first openly lesbian heroine in the animated superhero film “Onward.” A 2017 live-action adaptation of the classic animated film “Beauty and the Beast” featured a “gay moment” that led to considerable backlash from the faith community. 

Jeannie Ortega Law is a reporter for The Christian Post. Reach her at: jeannie.law@christianpost.com She's also the author of the book, What Is Happening to Me? How to Defeat Your Unseen Enemy Follow her on Twitter: @jlawcp Facebook: JeannieOMusic

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