So, Cody Simpson has joined the cast of Broadway’s Anastasia. I’m sure many of you have heard plenty about the situation; the controversy surrounding replacing a talented Broadway actor with a pop star has been all over social media, and news of the discourse has even reached message boards like Broadway World. I have my own opinions about the whole debacle, but fortunately, I’m not here to discuss those opinions today. (If you want to see my thoughts on something similar, I wrote a piece about the drama when Lauren Ambrose was cast in My Fair Lady that you’re free to check out!)
No. Today, my topic is completely irrelevant to whether or not Cody Simpson deserved to be cast as Dmitry, nor is it going to focus on the ethics of forcing out a well-received theatre actor in favor of desperate stunt-casting. My issue today lies entirely with the fact that there are some people out there who don’t understand proper stagedoor etiquette...or, even, proper human decency.
Imagine you go to the stagedoor after your favorite show, and you’re eager to meet the actors. You can’t wait to tell them how amazing their performances were, to get some autographs, maybe even snap a picture or two with your biggest fave. It’s not long before the cast begins pouring out, and it’s all smiles and warm greetings as the fans leaning against the barrier begin holding out their posters and Playbills.
Suddenly, a man next to you asks the lead actress for a picture. “Is it alright if we do one of me planting a kiss on your cheek?” he asks innocently. The actress grins and agrees, but as she leans in to get close enough for the photo, the guy instead twists his face around and tries to go for her lips instead. The actress is startled and awkwardly laughs, sheepishly going, “Heh, you almost got me!” before moving on, clearly shocked at what just happened. The next day, the guy posts a video of the incident on Twitter along with a caption gushing over how cute and sexy he thinks the actress is, and his friends and followers cheer him on, congratulating him on his exciting trip.
That’s creepy, right?
Well, it’s exactly what happened to Cody Simpson during his first stagedoor experience, just with the genders reversed. When a guy does that sort of thing to a woman, it’s rightfully considered sexual harassment, but when a woman does it to a guy, it’s brushed off by many as cute, funny, and endearing.
I was happy to see that a lot of people were calling this girl out on her behavior when she posted the videos with Cody. Thankfully, everyone I followed who gave the post attention was staunchly against what happened, and I believe the girl was even led to take the videos down when enough people argued against them. But my problem is that, while there were plenty of folks speaking out against sexual harassment, there were also enough people cheering her on to warrant discomfort.
It’s not okay to invade someone’s personal space at the stagedoor. I mean, it’s not okay to do it anywhere, but the stagedoor is a special place where some fans tend to think that all rules for proper etiquette go right out the window. If I were to meet Hugh Jackman after a Broadway show tomorrow, for example, I would ask him first before making any physical contact with him, and even then, sexual advances would not be on the list of possible options. You can want very badly to meet a favorite celebrity, but when you do, you have to remember that said celebrity is a living, breathing person.
No actor deserves to feel like their personal bubble isn’t valued while they’re doing a favor for fans, or rather, because they’re doing a favor for fans. Cody Simpson reacted politely to the situation and tried to brush it off, but it was clear in the video how uncomfortable he was, and I would not have blamed him at all if he had instead chosen to jerk away and yell at the girl for going for that kiss.
Actors’ bodies are not yours to do whatever you want with. Start treating them like actual people. Be respectful, or else don’t be surprised when more and more actors decide to start skipping the stagedoor entirely.