Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Raiders Of The Lost Ark's Karen Allen doesn't think Indiana Jones is a pedophile

The relationship may have been creepy, but she thinks it was "quite innocent"

Karen Allen in Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Karen Allen in Raiders Of The Lost Ark
Photo: Mondadori (Getty Images)

There’s a big market on the internet these days for reappraisals of the pop culture canon, which is how we get sudden waves of nostalgia for stuff like Master And Commander and also years-too-late backlashes against stuff like, oh, Master And Commander. It’s also how we get new takes on old movies, reinterpreting themes or examining character dynamics from a more modern, socially conscious perspective, like the idea that Indiana Jones’ relationship with Marion Ravenwood in Raiders Of The Lost Ark is… kinda creepy. When he shows up at her bar early in the movie, the two briefly recap how they know each other, with Marion saying, “I was a child. I was in love.” and Indy responding, “You knew what you were doing,” which some people have chosen to interpret as “Indiana Jones was in a relationship with a kid.” (Ignoring the fact that “I was a kid” is a pretty common way to refer to a pretty wide window of younger days.)

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Uproxx recently spoke with Karen Allen, who played Marion in that one movie and not any others that we can think of right now, and brought up the potential creepiness of that scene. Allen agrees that “you could say that” there are some “sinister undertones” to the conversation (as Uproxx puts it), but she doesn’t think it means that Indiana Jones is literally a pedophile. She says her take on the scene was that Marion was 16 when they met and Indy was maybe 26, and “they could have kissed a few times,” but her interpretation was that “it was quite innocent.” She thinks they cared for each other, but he decided it was a “dangerous situation” and broke it off.

To be clear: That’s still creepy. Even a particularly generous read of the scene makes it seem like something that would only be cool to a pair of dorks like young George Lucas and young Steven Spielberg, but even then, it’s not really meant to make Indiana Jones seem like a nice guy. Marion punches him in the jaw in that scene, because she’s cool as hell, and the audience isn’t supposed to think she was wrong to hit him. He mistreated her, and when he walks through her door again looking for help to stop some Nazis from raiding a lost ark, she makes it clear to him—and the audience—that he’s not necessarily a good person. Indiana Jones isn’t an unimpeachable action hero who always does the right thing and always has a perfect plan in his back pocket (like a James Bond or an Ethan Hunt), which is one of the things that makes Raiders Of The Lost Ark such a good movie.

So however you feel about the idea the “Indiana Jones is a pedophile” argument, it doesn’t necessarily invalidate what makes the movie work. It’s okay to interpret the relationship as creepy and it’s okay to interpret it differently. It’s okay to have an opinion! Everybody gets an opinion! Let’s all go wild! It’s even okay to like Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull! It’s just a movie, nobody cares!