Gen-Xers, do you remember Spencer Elden?
You may not remember his name, but you certainly will his genitals. Or at least how they looked when he was a baby.
Yes, Spencer was the baby featured on Nirvana’s Nevermind album, drifting naked in a pool, seemingly reaching for a dollar bill dangling on a hook.
Anyone who’s ever experienced a “Code Brown” during a toddler swim class knows just how crazy a naked baby in a pool really is.
I was in high school when the album came out and remember being too creeped out by the cover to buy it. But not enough to not listen to Nirvana. A lot. Still do. Heck, I even put my babies to sleep to lullaby renditions of Nirvana.
No surprise, Spencer has received a lot of attention over the years for the role he played in rock history.
And he’s had enough.
Spencer is suing everyone involved in the making of the album claiming they “knowingly produced, possessed, and advertised commercial child pornography depicting Spencer and they knowingly received value in exchange for doing so.”
It’s clear that Spencer has a complicated relationship with the photo that’s made him famous. He’s recreated the photo (clothed) several times and has the word “Nevermind” tattooed on his chest.
But he’s also well aware that most people in the world have seen him naked.
While we can all agree that the photo was tasteless and exploitative, whether it’s actually “child pornography” will be up to a judge to decide. A photo of a naked child alone is not the definition of pornography under federal law. Among other things, there needs to be a lascivious exhibition of the genitals as the focal point of the photo.
The fact that all any of us can remember of that cover is Spencer’s genitals were in full view may mean he does have a point.
Let’s all be thankful the photographer nixed Kurt Cobain’s original idea from the album—a photo of an actual water birth. Deemed “too graphic.”
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