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Frivolous Lawsuits: From Nirvana Iconic Symbol of Innocence - To Nirvana Fan - To Supposed Child Sexual Exploitation Rights Activist [Yeah right]


Spencer Elden is trending. But that's likely what he wants. What else does he want? Money. Everyone likes money; can't blame him for that. But what Spencer is not is an activist for child exploitation.

I call bullshit.

Frivolous Lawsuits: From Nirvana Iconic Symbol of Innocence - To Nirvana Fan - To Supposed Child Sexual Exploitation Rights Activist [Yeah right]
Frivolous Lawsuits: From Nirvana Iconic Symbol of Innocence - To Nirvana Fan - To Supposed Child Sexual Exploitation Rights Activist [Yeah right]

Who is Spencer Elden?

He is the cover image of one of the most iconic albums of all time.

Nirvana's 'Nevermind' was released on September 24, 1991, topping the Billboard 200 and selling millions of copies worldwide.

Elden explained the image was about "abandonment of innocence and everyone chasing money sooner and faster."

Elden was four months old when this picture was taken.

He is a student at the Art Centre College of Design in Pasadena, California, and works as a street artist.

The Lawsuit Spencer Has Filed:

Suing: Nirvana LLC, the band’s surviving members, Kurt Cobain’s estate, and other entities and individuals. In 2016, Elden told TIME that he had unsuccessfully explored taking legal action against Geffen Records, which is named in the new lawsuit.

Seeking damages of $2.5 million. And he wants the album art altered for any future re-releases. “If there is a 30th anniversary re-release, he wants for the entire world not to see his genitals,” said lawyer Maggie Mabie.

When: When the band refused to perform at his art show, he said it was very weird for him to be known as the unusual baby on the album cover, and he wasn’t even making money from it. After that, he sued the band for producing, owning, and promoting illegal child pornography knowingly, even though he had no issue with it for 30 years. Elden has, in the past, publicly voiced his ambivalence. “It’s kind of creepy [to think] that many people have seen me naked,” a 17-year-old Elden told MTV News in 2008. “I feel like I’m the world’s biggest porn star.” Sounds more like a wish than a nightmare.

The Claim:

The lawsuit alleges that Nirvana and other defendants violated federal child pornography laws by using the image, failed to prevent his widespread sexual exploitation, that the image has been "trafficked", and that Elden sustained “injuries” and “lifelong damages” which he has not come to terms with, as a result of the album cover and the record’s global success and fame.

“Neither Spencer nor his legal guardians ever signed a release authorizing the use of any images of Spencer or of his likeness,” the filing claims, “and certainly not of commercial child pornography depicting him.”

Mabie referred to a claim in the lawsuit that “Cobain agreed to redact Spencer’s image” with a sticker bearing the text “If you’re offended by this, you must be a closet pedophile”. The album was ultimately released without the sticker.

The Real Story:

Speaking to The Guardian about the image in 2015, Elden said his parents were friends with Weddle and didn't give his being in the photo "too much thought."

He said: "So his [Elden's father] friend the photographer Kirk Weddle called him and said: 'Do you want to make some money today and throw your kid in the pool?' And he agreed. "My parents took me down there, apparently they blew in my face to stimulate my gag reflex, dunked me in, took some pictures, and pulled me out. And that was it. They were paid $200 and went to eat tacos afterwards. No big deal."

Elden: It had been a "positive thing and opened doors for me."

The Photograph/Photographer:

Photographer: Kirk Weddle

Weddle was a specialist in underwater photography, but had never photographed a baby in water before this image.

He said he was paid $1,000, and initially they used a doll to train on before bringing Elden into the frame.

He shot about 15 frames overall, taking an hour to set up and five minutes to actually take the iconic image.

Weddle said he was concerned Elden's prominent penis in the image would mean it would not work for the record label, and went to a swim school and took an image of a 10-month-old girl as an alternative. "I knew I had the shot. That's the thing about old-school photography—as a pro, you have to know that you've got it before you leave. But when I looked at it more closely, I had some doubts. I thought, 'Man, it's such a dick shot!' His unit was so prominent in the picture... he's a well-hung kid for a four-month-old, you know? I didn't know if the label would go for it..."

The band originally wanted the image to be of a woman giving birth underwater, but the record company decided that was too graphic. "But the label loved the original shot of Spencer and went with that."

The dollar bill in front of Elden was taken by "a guy in New York," according to Weddle, meaning the two things were taken separately and placed together.

The Tattoo:

Oh, not a fan of Nirvana... huh? Lifelong damages my ass.
Oh, not a fan of Nirvana... huh? "Lifelong damages" my ass.

The Photo Shoots Over the Years:

He did many photoshoots in his youth and into adulthood, recreating the initial album cover repeatedly, further showing that he had no issue with it.

Elden has been profiled by several publications since the release of ‘Nevermind’, often for stories celebrating the album’s anniversary at various points over the years. He has even recreated the album cover, though clothed, in photoshoots – first in 2008, and then in 2016 for the album’s 25th anniversary.

Frivolous Lawsuits: From Nirvana Iconic Symbol of Innocence - To Nirvana Fan - To Supposed Child Sexual Exploitation Rights Activist [Yeah right]
Frivolous Lawsuits: From Nirvana Iconic Symbol of Innocence - To Nirvana Fan - To Supposed Child Sexual Exploitation Rights Activist [Yeah right]


Frivolous Lawsuits: From Nirvana Iconic Symbol of Innocence - To Nirvana Fan - To Supposed Child Sexual Exploitation Rights Activist [Yeah right]
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6Girl Opinion
14Guy Opinion

Most Helpful Guys

  • JustinTimberlegs
    Sounds like he's just having a cry because they wouldn't play at his art show lol

    He's shaking his fist in the wind going "you will pay for this!" What a betrayal! I'm entitled to things!

    C'mon dude you've been milking this your entire life. But then again it's none of my business and he never asked for my opinion 😂 his art seems alright, from that one photo. Better than me anyway 🙃
    Like 1 Person
    Is this still revelant?
  • LukeLugh
    WOW that is blatant abuse of process and a heinous misrepresentation of virtuosity. Just gross! Rights activism which requires that amount of seriousness must be genuine in that it seeks ends. Using a serious topic as a means to attain financial gratification is twisted!
    Like 1 Person
    Is this still revelant?

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What Girls & Guys Said

  • abc3643
    This was my answer to this question:
    Do You Feel the Nirvana Baby was Sexually Exploited?

    That's the album cover:Frivolous Lawsuits: From Nirvana Iconic Symbol of Innocence - To Nirvana Fan - To Supposed Child Sexual Exploitation Rights Activist [Yeah right]OK...
    1. He's 30 years old. He's had 12 years to file this complaint. He didn't. There should be a statute of limitations on this.
    2. His parents were compensated $200 for the cover; they accepted. That's it. It was a modeling job. You want the money: Take it up with your parents.
    3. Every 5 years, this kid takes a new picture (with bathing suit) imitating his famous pose. He likely gets paid for it. Maybe he should hold out for more $ when the 35th anniversary cover picture is due.
    4. File a class action with China Kantner. She was the naked baby on the cover of her parent's 1971 album Sunfighter.Frivolous Lawsuits: From Nirvana Iconic Symbol of Innocence - To Nirvana Fan - To Supposed Child Sexual Exploitation Rights Activist [Yeah right]This is a ridiculous lawsuit and should be thrown out.

    You wanna make money? Get naked and do that pose and have it in Playgirl.
    Like 3 People
  • readyplayer001
    his parents made the choice, if he is so destroyed why didn't he sue them? that cover is as recognizable as the band itself. he is completely off his rocker, there is no sexual intent with that cover, he changed his tune over the years with how cool it was to now im a victim, gimme a break
    Like 1 Person
  • Riebeck
    Give him the digital rights to the pic like the meme people do and let him auction it off. The record label has made enough from it, let the money go to someone who actually needs it.
    Disagree 1 Person
    • AmandaYVR

      "Needs it"? How about earned it. He did nothing to earn it. He should get nothing.

  • Brainsbeforebeauty
    Maybe he's just salty cuz he couldn't do that nude pose now cuz what looked big when he was a baby probably don't look so big now🤣🤣
    Seriously though just another bullshit lawsuit to get money...
    Like 3 People
  • FakeName123
    I mean, it's an interesting case. Less so for him as a person and moreso to clarify what actually constitutes child pornography. Is any nudity instantly child pornography? What about let's say a documentary about nude beaches where families go to?

    From a legal point of view that definitely is interesting.

    I really couldn't care less about him as a person, though. And to be honest, no one would know who he is, if he didn't go to the public by himself.
    • AmandaYVR

      I think even a discussion about whether something like this could be considered child pornography is the real problem.
      Someone else here asked a question about this kid/news story. She gave zero information and in doing so, it creates an open discussion about child pornography. Many people were concerned and there were certainly rumblings that what Nirvana did was inappropriate.
      This is complete nonsense. We, as individuals, should all do our parts as citizens of the world to stop spreading misinformation by essentially just reading headlines, and passing those alone. (Even my husband often does this. He gobbles up news but doesn't take the time to read each topic thoroughly, wanting to get an overview of most stuff.) The internet has created pay-per-click 'journalism' - and I use that term journalism with serious disappointment, because too often now, garbage written by no one with any professional research etc. training, can be taken with similar weight to someone who has spent almost their entire life staking their own credibility on the words they choose.
      This is not child pornography. Child pornography does exist, and, yes, we should do everything to eradicate it from society. But let's not mix the two, shall we. Money-grubbing opportunists masquerading as rights activists damages society.

    • sadMeester

      Would you say a toddler wet t-shirt contest is ok?

      Don't change standards because you like a band. I wouldn't want my kids dick to be seen by millions of people.

    • AmandaYVR

      @sadMeester You're directing this at me?
      Comparing this to a toddler wet t-shirt contest is lunacy. You are smarter than that. You know context matters.
      And I find it insulting, actually, that you think I am unable to disassociate the concept of child pornography, and the details of this law suit, with having liked the band. Come on.
      What you say therefore defines all nudity as pornography, and that is absolutely false.

    • Show All
  • CallmeTheKnight
    This is the same guy who went parading around by bragging about being on the album cover. There is no distress. He's just broke and wants money by being a scandalous opportunist.
    Like 1 Person
  • Bluemax
    Well, it turns out that the album cover was prophetic. He's making a cash grab.

    I have grave doubts he suffered much from the pic.

    The fact that he's a street artist (often code for "unemployed ") who attended art school in Pasadena (two of my friends attended there... it ain't cheap) makes me skeptical.

    I had a former student who was in a Huggies commercial. She ran across a room topless. She was about a year and a half. She actually showed me the video (it's on YouTube). She wasn't the least bit distressed about showing me the video. She even claims she remembers filming it a little bit.
    Like 2 People
  • backblueblack22
    I grew up during this era. I always thought that pic was weird and the baby’s D was superimposed (early rudimentary photoshop). No one ever thought of it as kiddie porn at the time, just weird art vía Nirvana’s weird alternative reality.

    But the fact that his family made only 200 bucks and he was actually dunked underwater in a pool (I also thought the water was photoshopped) is giving me second thoughts on all of this. He has right to get more money than that. I won’t go as far as calling this “child exploitation”. Hell I bet a lot of then cops and FBI agents probably of owned a copy of Nevermind. No one ever looked at that way until someone pointed it out as such.

    But I do agree he deserves a lot more money then what his family was paid. The Cobain estate can definitely afford it. I guess he has to go with the “child exploitation” angle to further the lawsuit. Still though it is “I’m modern and this triggers me” bs though.
  • Lliam
    What a pathetic, worthless loser.
    Like 3 People
  • loves2learn
    Total bullshit. Trying to get free money.
    LikeDisagree 3 People
  • zagor
    He's just pissed his fame peaked at 3 months old.
    Like 4 People
  • WhiplashMonkey
    He’s still chasing that money to this day I see
    Like 2 People
  • karaspara
    What a chancer
  • genericname85
    things broke people do to get money...
  • Uptowngirl88
    He's lame
    Like 1 Person
  • princeofromance
    It is iconic, and should remain the same.
    All i can say is that his dick was big for a baby.
    Disagree 2 People
  • Anonymous
    On one hand, it sucks that his parents made that decision for him. On the other, the image isn’t really sexualized in any way, so I doubt he’s really been traumatized by it. This feels like a money grab.
    • AmandaYVR

      It's most definitely a money grab. He was making money from publishers and media several times over the years (and his parents were friends, and did get paid.) Then he gets bitter and makes up all these lies (which he himself contradicted) when he didn't get what he wanted. I wrote the details above. It's shameful to claim something and try and put it in a category with exploitation that is legitimate.