Bill Maher is the latest to speak on the child pornography lawsuit leveled against Nirvana by 30-year-old Spencer Elden, the baby on the cover of the band’s iconic 1991 album, Nevermind. You can watch the full clip from Real Time WIth Bill Maher below.
“The words ‘victim’ and ‘survivor’ have traveled a long way from their original usage,” Maher begins. “The baby from the Nirvana album says he’s a victim. He’s suing Nirvana for lifelong damages. I never thought I’d have to say this to a baby, but stop being such a fucking baby. You’re not a victim. There’s no reason you can’t have a normal, happy life just because people look at you and think, ‘baby penis.'”
Elden is seeking $150,000 for “permanent harm” he claimed to endure from “extreme and permanent emotional distress with physical manifestations, interference with his normal development and educational progress, lifelong loss of income earning capacity, loss of past and future wages, past and future expenses for medical and psychological treatment, loss of enjoyment of life, and other losses to be described and proven at trial of this matter,” according to the lawsuit uploaded to Scribd by Pitchfork News.
“I don’t know that I can speak on it because I haven’t spent too much time thinking about it,” he says. “I feel the same way most people do in that I have to disagree. That’s all I’ll say.”
Many lawyers have spoken out about the case’s merit. Bryan Sullivan of Early Sullivan told Hollywood Reporter that he felt the suit was “ridiculous.”
“I think it is highly unlikely that a record company would use a photograph for an album cover without verifying the existence of a release signed by the parents,” he says. “But, if is there is no release, it does not mean he has a claim for child pornography. As to the right of privacy, you can waive it by your actions or by his parents’ actions in allowing him to be photographed.”
Elden’s attorney, James Marsh, claims that this permission wasn’t granted. “Our understanding is there was no release,” he says. “In a culture in which we are trying to uphold consent as one of the highest values, an image of a child naked that he didn’t consent to should cause people concern.”
Elden, who has posed for recreations of the cover a handful of times in the past, is also suing Universal Music Group, Warner Records, the photographer and other individuals involved with the cover art choice.
Grohl said in October that he has “many ideas” on how they could alter the cover if Elden’s lawsuit is successful. Grohl told the Sunday TImes, “We’ll let you know. I’m sure we’ll come up with something good.”