How would you feel if your naked baby photo ended up in tens of millions of homes? That’s what happened to Spencer Elden, who was photographed as a baby for the cover of Nirvana’s 1991 mega-hit album Nevermind., and that he is now suing the gang and the photographer alleging that the image is child pornography.
Whether or not the lawsuit seems like a cynical strategy for making easy money – one with remote possibilities – the photo foreshadowed an important question for contemporary parents. Should we refrain from generating public images of children who are too young to understand the meaning of “public”? And if we convince ourselves that we can control what we post on Facebook and Instagram, are we fooling ourselves?
The year Elden was photographed for the cover of Nevermind, ordinary mothers and fathers did not have the ability to make their sons or daughters go viral, not even by accident. The first commercial internet service provider was less than two years old. Social media wasn’t even a gleam in the eyes of a seven-year-old named Mark Zuckerberg. Unless you were Demi Moore, who posed nude and pregnant for the cover of Vanity Fair in August 1991, there was no way to go public with all the details of a pregnancy and a child’s early life.
Even the success of Nevermind was surprising. That – and perhaps some confusion about the purpose of the photo shoot – may have been the reason Elden’s parents didn’t give the proposal much thought when photographer Kirk Weddle, a family friend, offered them $ 200. to participate in the project (the complaint alleges: “Neither Spencer nor his legal guardians signed any document authorizing the use of any photograph of Spencer or his image”).
But what was once beyond the logistical capabilities of most Americans today is something that even a technophobe does in an instant. It takes less than 30 seconds to take a photo from the phone and upload it to the countless platforms on which many of us now document our lives, in too much detail. Girls and boys are valuable assets in the influencer economy. The sons and daughters of the Kardashian-Jenner clan and stars like Chrissy Teigen take their place in the public narratives of their families from birth. So why shouldn’t every baby have an Instagram account?
It doesn’t take a photographer friend with connections in the music industry for a photograph to travel far beyond its original context. With a right click or a screenshot, any image can be republished or reused for much more personal or wicked uses than the Nevermind cover.
Regardless of the fact that photographs of minors are subject to theft or tampering, posting them online is still an act of imaging, one that often occurs without their consent, and that in general it does not have so much to do with the public image of the children as with the image that the parents are trying to project of themselves.
Many of Elden’s attorneys’ arguments can be challenged, including the suggestion that the photographer “triggered Spencer’s’ gag reflex ‘before throwing him into the water” because he wanted to “make sure the album cover triggered a sexual response. visceral viewer “, or that Elden was intended to pose” like a sex worker “in search of money. Babies’ gag reflexes protect them from inhaling things they shouldn’t, like large amounts of pool water. And there is a strong argument that the image is about capitalism rather than sex, or the combination of those two forces.
People might also decide to question Elden’s motivations for filing this lawsuit, considering that as an adult he has participated in recreating the album cover, and has posed for photographs showing the same image that allegedly caused “permanent damage.”
Yet we must grant you, and children around the world, the following: the way we feel about how others perceive us can change over time, especially as we grow older and cultural norms transform . What may have started out as the source of a funny anecdote could turn into a claustrophobic situation, especially if that image is too powerful and popular to be challenged by another image. Child pornography or not, Who wants to be seen as a baby forever?
That, more than anything else, is the lesson of Elden’s lawsuit. Perhaps Elden’s parents were naive when they let their friend take that picture of their son 30 years ago. But we who are raising children today do not have that excuse.
In the long run, we must have the common sense to ask ourselves what is more important: post images on social media to satisfy our own egos or leave a space for our daughters and sons to tell their own stories about themselves.
Por Galyssa Rosenberg; The Washington Post.-
A bit of context: The lawsuit
30 years after the release of Nirvana’s iconic album “Nevermind,” characterized by the figure of a baby on its cover, the person pictured sued the band for “child pornography.”
The man claims at least 150 thousand dollars in compensation from each of those involved, which includes the group’s living members, Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic; Courtney Love, widow of Kurt Cobain; photographer Kirk Weddle; art director Robert Fisher; and record companies.