One surviving member of the band observed that the plaintiff–featured on the cover of the album “Nevermind” as a naked, swimming infant–has the album’s name tattooed across his chest, and recreated the image on at least two occasions.
Attorneys for Nirvana have filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against the brand by Spencer Elden, who appeared on the cover of the album “Nevermind” as a naked infant.
In his lawsuit, filed in August, Elden claims he was a victim of sexual exploitation, and that the album’s cover artwork constitutes child pornography.
“Defendants knowingly produced, possessed and advertised commercial child pornography depicting Spencer,” the lawsuit alleges.
Elden, writes The Guardian, amended his lawsuit in November to include passages from Kurt Cobain’s journals, in which the band’s late front-man described “imagined child sexual abuse.”
While Elden also removed a number of named defendants, several remain. They include Nirvana members Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic; Courtney Love, executor of the Cobain estate; and Kirk Weddle, the photographer who captured “Nevermind’s” cover image.
Collectively, attorneys for the remaining defendants have sought to dismiss Elden’s suit, claiming the two statutes under which Elden filed his complaint are subject to time limitations.
Since Elden’s complaint may be invalidated by statutes of limitations, the defendants’ lawyers allege that Elden’s lawsuit “falls flat on its face,” having been filed far too late for consideration.
Attorneys also say that Elden’s most serious allegation—that the album’s cover art is essentially a child sex abuse image—is “not serious.”
“A brief examination of the photograph, or Elden’s own conduct (not to mention the photograph’s presence in the homes of millions of Americans who, on Elden’s theory, are guilty of felony possession of child pornography) makes that clear,” the lawyers claim.
Rather than being child pornography, the defendants say Elden’s image was intended to “[evoke] themes of greed, innocence, and the motif of the cherub in western art.”
Elden, though, claims that such a depiction of his infant body has had serious, life-long effects.
By being featured on the album’s cover, Elden claims he was subjected to “extreme and permanent emotional distress with physical manifestations,” as well as loss of education, wages, and general “enjoyment of life.”
Nirvana attorneys, however, observed in their motion that Elden “has spent three decades profiting from his celebrity as the self-anointed ‘Nirvana Baby.’”
The Guardian notes that Elden has, in the years since, recreated the image to commemorate the 15th and 25th anniversaries of the album’s release.
When asked about Elden’s lawsuit in October, Nirvana member Grohl told The Guardian that Elden has a “Nevermind” tattoo on his chest.
“He’s got a Nevermind tattoo,” Grohl said. “I feel the same way most people do in that I have to disagree [with the lawsuit’s claims].”