Things have been up and down for Nirvana lately. The band’s signature hit, “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” recently eclipsed a billion Spotify streams, a rare feat for a ’90s song. Now, though, the band is being sued by Spencer Elden, who appeared naked on the famous Nevermind album cover when he was a baby. Elden is suing the band and others involved over claims of child pornography and child sexual exploitation. The topic has become headline news, and Maggie Mabie, a lawyer representing Elden, had a contentious conversation about it with Chris Cuomo on Cuomo Prime Time.
During the chat (as Yahoo! notes), Mabie attested, “The focal point of the image is the minor’s genitalia. And here in that image along with all of the other dose factors as we pled in our complaint, it is a very over-sexualized image, and does constitute child pornography. More importantly, it was child exploitation in the way that they created it, and the way that they continue to distribute the image today.”
Cuomo didn’t agree with that point of view, however, responding, “I don’t ever remember anybody ever writing or anything being out there in society about this image as a sexualized or pornographic image. I always thought that it was a suggestion of how right out of the womb, people are just grabbing for money and doing anything they can. I thought it was more about capitalism than it was sexuality.”
Mabie went on to compare Elden to victims of child pornography, saying, “Spencer wants this image redacted. He is saying that he doesn’t want his genitalia out there for the world to consume any longer, and if we have this image redacted, that will be a monumental signal for all victims of child pornography that their voices are being heard and their privacy is being respected.”
Again, Cuomo pushed back against Mabie, citing the fact that Elden has regularly honored and re-created the album art over the years: “You think that this man is really a good face for the pain of child pornography? Somebody who’s made money out of it, has a tattoo on his chest about it, has celebrated it at different times in his life and had all this time to reach out about it in the context that you’re offering now, and never did? You really think that this is something that would be comforting to real victims?”
Watch the interview above, starting at 42:43 into the video.