For 30 years Spencer Elder has endured, in his own words, being associated with the baby swimmer on the cover of Nevermind. But many things have changed in these three decades. People have become more sensitive. Child abuse is now recognized around the world as a problem to be taken seriously.
Today, it would not occur to anyone to expose a naked baby in public like that. 30 years ago, the sensitivity for this did not exist. And so Elder’s father allowed his four-month-old son’s photo, which would become one of the most famous album covers in music history.
Nobody thought about it
The then unknown band Nirvana had already tried to stage themselves underwater, but the photo with the baby swimming behind a dollar bill convinced everyone: the band, the record company and the photographer. Almost no one was bothered then by the fact that the baby’s small penis appeared in the photo.
Silke Wünsch, editora de DW
The record company suggested covering the boy’s genitals. But supposedly Kurt Cobain would only agree if they covered them with a sticker that said, “If this bothers you, you must be a closet pedophile.”
But here is the crux of the matter: I would never claim that anyone involved at the time felt sexual arousal of any kind when looking at the image.
Today everything is different. There is currently a heated debate as to whether and how to introduce children to children on Facebook. Will my son, sitting on the potty with such a pretty smile, ever slap me with the photo? Will my daughter, who is eight years old and splashing in the lake without her bikini top, will later reproach me for using her childish looks to amuse my Facebook friends?
When “Nevermind” was released in 1991, Nirvana and its frontman Kurt Cobain (center) were hardly known.
Children cannot defend themselves
Of course, children have the right to complain. After all, when they’re little they can’t resist being photographed and they can’t say to their parents, “I don’t want you to publish this picture of me!”
Elder also couldn’t defend himself when he was a baby. Now it does. Of course, the question is: why are you doing it now? After all, in recent years he has had himself photographed several times in exactly this pose for money, albeit dressed. It seems that now Elder is reaching for the dollar bill with his demand, as it appears on the cover of Nevermind. These questions are now being discussed online.
However, the question that arises here is another that did not arise 30 years ago: is it allowed to photograph naked children and publish these photos? No. Because today we know that there are many people among us who indulge inappropriately with such images.
People need to be more sensitized
If Elder now seeks compensation for pain and suffering, let him do so. The best thing about what’s happening here now is that a 30-year-old album cover gives us a renewed reason to talk about child sexual abuse, to make people more aware of the issue. With the almost daily news about child pornography, pedophiles and victims of abuse, this will never be talked about enough.
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Opinion: the cover of Nirvana is not abuse | TODAY | DW