“I love Phillip and he’s the only one I love… I love him dearly, he’s one of my most favourite people,” a 19-year-old Demi Moore says of her 15-year-old General Hospital co-star, Philip Tanzini in 1982, stroking his brown hair and looking into his eyes.
In the decades-old video, which resurfaced on the internet on this week, we see what appears to be the actions of a woman who cares for her friend. Not all that dissimilar to displays of affection we see at family barbecues, engagement parties and high school graduations.
But then, she kisses him. On the lips, and more than a peck.
In light of the sexual assault and harassment allegations dominating Hollywood, logic tells us the exchange should feel ominous. But for some, it doesn’t.
We should be outraged. It’s likely we would be if the roles were reversed. And yet for some, it feels different.
According to The Independent, the video footage was shot at Tanzini’s 15th birthday celebrations. Over the duration of the five-minute video, Moore and Tanzini can be seen kissing three times in between Moore’s affectionate birthday speech.
By US law, a 19-year-old kissing a 15-year-old is wrong. Just as wrong as forcing a junior colleague to give you a nude massage, or exposing your private parts to an unwilling stranger.
Here, it comes down to context – the context surrounding when the video was shot and why, and the context that we’re now viewing it in now.
From an onlooker’s perspective, Tanzini doesn’t ‘look’ like a victim.
“We’re going to get married by the way. Don’t let her husband find out,” the child actor joked as they embraced. And at the time of publication, the now 50-year-old has not come forward as a victim. We can’t be sure if the kisses were consensual. He is, however, a child. For this reason, some would argue his victimhood is inherent, that what he thinks isn’t necessarily relevant.
At 19, Moore was an adult. But she doesn't 'look' like one. Is that why, for some, their interaction feels less like a violation or something untoward, and more like a teenage fling?
Then there's the context of what happened once the camera stopped rolling to consider. In the years following this moment, we know Moore's star rose, with the actress going on to work with high-profile directors and actors in notable films like A Few Good Men and Ghost.
In comparison, Tanzini's achievements seem smaller. Aside from working as a voice over artist, we don't know much about the quiet life he's led since General Practice ended in 1996.
Time and time again, a distinct power imbalance has been at the forefront of the Hollywood allegations we have seen unfold in recent weeks. Women were abused by older, more high-powered colleagues at the beginning of their careers. Some might see a correlation here, what with Tanzini's quiet career as an actor and those three kisses shared over 30 years ago with an older co-star.
In a year that has seen hundreds of women accuse over 30 high-profile men in positions of power in the entertainment industry of varying forms of abuse, Moore and Tanzini's kiss, which occurred between two teenagers in the 80's at a private birthday celebration, surrounded by colleagues and friends, should feel wrong. For some, it does.
For others, it's... uncomfortable. Uncomfortable because it doesn't fit into the clearly defined boxes of 'good' and 'bad'. It's somewhere in the middle, which means we have to figure out for ourselves how to feel about it.
So do we add her to the growing list of alleged Hollywood perpetrators? Harvey Weinstein, Louis C.K., Brett Ratner, Ed Westwick, Kevin Spacey... Demi Moore?
Or does she belong on a list of her own?
You can watch the full video as aired by Entertainment Tonight on YouTube.
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