An insidious evil is spreading throughout Hollywood, the town that raised and trained me as a boy for a career that would not exist for me as a man.
The exploitation of children, which Hollywood both employs and to which they market, has sunk to another mindless low point with the announcement that 12 year-old Dakota Fanning will portray a pre-adolescent rape victim in the movie, “Hound dog,” an independent film alleged to feature Dakota, not yet in her teens, totally naked and actually assaulted on film in a realistic portrait of the rape that spins her into a fantasy world centered on Elvis Presley.
What culture can survive such an assault on what it means to be a child? By what tortured reasoning…even with Academy Award attention dangled as a lure…can a mother, an agent, an Industry and The State permit the capture on film of an underage actress simulating a violent sexual assault with commercial intent?Is it Art? Can a child be utilized in this fashion under the protections of our First Amendment?
Does Freedom of Expression extend to writers and directors and producers who work in a collaborative medium?
As an author of sixteen books who vigorously defends First Amendment issues, I require no lectures on the importance of an individual with an unpopular point of view being protected in the right to speak freely or put words to paper that may make some people squirm, or create hand-crafted images depicting even the most vile and hateful of images.
But can you employ a Minor to act out your creative fantasies? Does paying a child make rape okay? Isn’t there a difference between Nobokov’s novel, “Lolita,” which stands alone as the artist’s expression, and graphically putting those images on film with the aid of paid professionals using a Minor who is paid for her performance?
You bet there is a difference. The unadulterated fact is that a child cannot be used in this fashion, even simulating a sexual act, let alone doing so for commercial purposes. In California the Criminal Codes expressly state (CC: 311.4 if you need convincing) that a person or persons who engage in this behavior have indulged in an illegal act. Federal Codes are also explicit:
Title 18 of the United States Code governs child pornography. See Chapter 110, Sexual Exploitation and Other Abuse of Children. 18 U.S.C. § 2256 defines “Child pornography” as:
“any visual depiction, including any photograph, film, video, picture, or computer or computer-generated image or picture, whether made or produced by electronic, mechanical, or other means, of sexually explicit conduct, where -
(A) the production of such visual depiction involves the use of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct;
(B) such visual depiction is, or appears to be, of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct;
(C) such visual depiction has been created, adapted, or modified to appear that an identifiable minor is engaging in sexually explicit conduct; or
(D) such visual depiction is advertised, promoted, presented, described, or distributed in such a manner that conveys the impression that the material is or contains a visual depiction of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct . . .”
Nextwe will demonstrate why Hollywood Dollars cater to the hormonally driven appetites of adolescent boys, and why the decision-makers trundle off to states like North Carolina, a Right To Work (for less) State that actually brags about its absence of child labor laws. There is a reason films like “Bastard out of Carolina,” (starring Jena Malone) “Firestarter” (starring nine year-old Drew Barrymore), and now “Hound Dog” (starring Dakota Fanning) choose Wilmington, NC as a production base.
What message was the non-union crew sending when it walked off the set during Dakota’s rape scene?
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