Cultural Imperialist

"Scathing Spats on Shallow Subjects"


Sun Aug 20




“Big” Love: Why aren’t we outraged by Tom Hanks’ underage sex?

It hit me in the shower today: Tom Hanks was 13 years old when he had sex with Elizabeth Perkins.

No, I'm not talking about a Bieber-Kardashian liaison, but rather the thinly-veiled advertisement for the Big Piano known as Big, when Hanks played Josh Baskin and Perkins played Susan. Remember their sexual tension?

That's a stupid question - of course you do. Chances are Big is in your parents' VHS library, and always a few millimeters down in your subconscious. It's an iconic movie about coming of age after a magic fortune telling machine catapults you into emerging adulthood, a satisfying career, and losing your adolescent virginity to a MILF 10 years before MILFs existed.

Think about it! Hanks was not mentally ready for intercourse in the post-carnival love scene, where he turns the light back on and takes off Perkins' bra, and hello, he was underage! And yes, Perkins didn't know that until she was wearing that gender-bending shirt and tie, while they were developing the choose-your-own-adventure interactive comic book, and Hanks tried to tell her about the Zoltar machine. But how did she react later, when Hanks left the office during the big presentation, and she followed him to Sea Point Park where he Zoltared again? She was heartbroken that she wouldn't be able to bang this stickball star from the sticks anymore!

The most outrage I've seen leveled at this unrepentant pedophilia came from my Rosie-lookalike high school choir teacher. We were taking a day off from practice as a reward for success (state champs, 1996), eating pizza and watching Big. When the love scene came up, the teacher simply blushed and made a joke about how awkward this was. Yes, watching foreplay with your students is a tad uncomfortable, unless you're a professor at Vassar. But foisting statutory rape on them? Reprehensible.

As you may have guessed, not all tweentimacy is celebrated in our society. The farthest Jennifer Garner goes in 13 Going on 30 is remarking that she's seen her guy's "thingy. And who hopes that depressed dad Kevin Spacey nails perky little Mena Suvari in American Beauty? If the notion of guys and (literal) girls hooking up didn't repulse us, Roman Polanski would still be partying with prepubescents in Pasadena.

Yet we continue to celebrate Big, and Tom Hanks' career as the eccentric Everyman continues abated. At least until he finishes the Da Vinci Code trilogy.

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