Spencer Elden, who’s been branded by himself and the rest of the world as the Nirvana Baby, is appealing a judgment that dismissed the child pornography charges against the band Nirvana. The Nirvana Baby image was at the height of its popularity on the cover of Nirvana‘s seminal Nevermind album. The release launched the careers of Kurt Cobain, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, defining the grunge era. The lawsuit also names Courtney Love, Universal Music Group, and photographer Kirk Weddle, who took the picture used on the album cover.
To summarize what’s happened for those just tuning in, Elden has been trying to sue the remaining members of Nirvana, and those involved with producing the album, for of child pornography. Elden claims the band was trying to “trigger a visceral sexual response from the viewer” by using the image uncensored.
Spender’s father, Rick Elden, has stated the family was paid $200 to throw 4-month-old Spencer into a pool for “half a second” so he could be shot by photographer Weddle. The dollar bill was added in digitally after the fact. Spencer feels the addition of the dollar makes the image comparable to a metaphor for sex work. This is a hard one because while he may feel that way, that’s not the way that the majority of those who viewed the album cover saw it. To most, it was just a baby in a pool.
Elden has filed numerous lawsuits against the band, the first which was thrown out and he subsequently amended. “Nirvana exploited me when I was a baby to sell their music, but there is a person behind every image,” Elden told TMZ. “I’m just asking the band to do what they should have done 30 years ago and redact my genitals from the image out of respect for my privacy.”
When he didn’t get anywhere with that, he changed the suit from sexual exploitation to child pornography distribution.
The thing is, he’s shown to be proud of being the Nirvana Baby. He’s recreated the cover of the album as an adult, albeit with board shorts on. He was a team player up until a little more than a year ag,o when he filed the charges. So for people looking in it’s a little confusing how he can be happy about being the baby but then also file for damages, it really feels like a money grab. He has however also stated things like this which he said during a 2008 interview with MTV news, “it’s kind of creepy [to think] that that many people have seen me naked. I feel like I’m the world’s biggest porn star.”
This new appeal is based on Elden’s attorney claiming the photo “causes him extreme ongoing psychic or emotional injury.”
But, it’s worth pointing to a quote from the baby which may shed some light on the reason for the ongoing litigation. “It’s hard not to get upset when you hear how much money was involved,” Elden said during TIME Magazine’s coverage of the 25th anniversary of the album’s release.
We’ll let you know what we hear about this case.