It started out innocently enough. In a fleeting comment with Access Hollywood, Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown, 14, revealed she had developed a strong friendship with Canadian rapper Drake, 31, with the pair often texting each other.
“We just texted each other the other day, and he was like: ‘I miss you so much,’ and I was like: ‘I miss you more.’ He's great,” she said.
Poor girl, she was never prepared for the onslaught that followed.
There are two things wrong with this scenario: Why is an older man texting a much younger girl “I miss you” if they are just friends?
Secondly: There's a 17-year age gap. It's inappropriate for a much older man to take an interest in a teen girl. She's young, impressionable and ripe for the picking. But what's glaringly obvious is her immaturity - in response to the backlash, she fumed on Instagram: “U guys are weird for real.”
It's not the first time Drake’s choice and interest in the opposite sex has been called into question. Eighteen-year-old model Bella B Harris uploaded a photo of herself with the KiKi hitmaker on Twitter and captioned it “no place I'd rather be”. She was 16 when they first met, and now rumoured to be his current squeeze.
His penchant for much younger girls hasn't gone unnoticed by his fans and the larger public.
“Contemporary pop culture and social media have created a perfect storm for facilitating interactions between young fans and their artistic idols,” noted Nylon's Sandra Song.
She said that it's a situation that lends itself to varying degrees of abuse, including grooming.
The notorious practice is familiar to many in the entertainment industry. According to Thinkuknow, grooming is defined as a process used by people with a sexual interest in children to prepare a child for sexual abuse.
Although many would argue that Drake and Brown's friendship is just what they say it is, it's still somewhat unconventional. But theirs is not the first. We take a look at other relationships in the spotlight that many thought indecorous.
Jerry Lee Lewis and Myra Gale Brown
She was just 13 when they tied the knot in 1957, but the shocking part about their marriage is that Brown was Lewis's third cousin.
Apparently, at the time, she didn't realise anything was wrong with their relationship.
“What I wanted was a baby in my arms, a home, a husband, a kitchen to cook in, a yard to raise roses,” she recalled during an interview.
During the late 1950s Lewis was one of the biggest rock & roll stars; being his child bride probably came part and parcel with the lifestyle.
Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn
When news of their relationship broke, it was one of Hollywood's biggest scandals. An acclaimed director had chosen to leave his current partner for her adopted daughter.
Their affair was discovered by Allen’s partner and Previn’s adoptive mother Mia Farrow when she found nude photos of her, left by an absent-minded Allen in plain view in 1992.
That summer, Farrow alleged that Allen had sexually abused their young adopted daughter, Dylan. And so the insinuations and accusations began. It left his reputation in tatters.
Khanyi Mbau and Mandla Mthembu
During a 2017 interview on Real Talk with Anele Mdoda, Mbau got candid about the 30-year age gap between her and Mthembu. During their romance, she had been called a gold digger and opportunist.
“A man with money will get you everything, but you will pay for it,” she said. She told Mdoda that she met Mandla when she was just 19, and he told her that he wanted to marry her.
They dated for months without having sex, and she recalled how when he told her he wanted to “make love” to her, she felt like it was the only way to thank him for everything.
Known for their extravagant lifestyle, the honeymoon didn’t last long and the couple divorced in 2009. They have a daughter together.