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The Ethics of Show Business Kids: Paul Petersen's Crusade


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The Ethics of Show Business Kids: Paul Petersen's Crusade and the Betrayal of Dakota Fanning

 

http://www.ethicsscoreboard.com/list/fanning.html

 

Has anyone seen Paul Peterson campaigning to stop the distribution of the movie that stars Dakota Fanning?

 

I was wondering what those here think of this? He had some fascinating things to say on a talking head show last night.

 

Whose fault is it? The businesses that make movies or the parents that allow their children to be used by these businesses?

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Ick...I can't believe her parents let her to that scene. I freaked out when I saw Jena Malone do the same thing, as well as take several beatings, in Bastard out of Carolina. You're not going to stop children from acting, whether willingly or forced, but I'd think parents would show some restraint on what and how many roles they take.

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Stoney:

 

This infuriates me. I adore Dakota, I've watched her since she was tiny. This is just the thing that can mess her up like River Phoenix, and so many others. Her mother should be cited for child abuse. There was a time when children were not allowed in the area when words like 'damn' and 'hell' were used. One more illustration of 'What is this world coming to'. What show was he on? If it was Leno, or Letterman, perhaps it will be repeated late at night next week, (they usually are). I would like to contact them.

 

Anne

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I blame the producers and her Mom. A 12yr. old shouldn't do a rape scene. It's all about the almighty dollar. The Director for this film is a women (who should know better) who's only other film is from 2003 called "Virgin" about a teenager who finds herself pregnant. Many stars had to bend over backward in the Studio System days.

But a star that is that much demand (like Fanning) should of refused. I think Mr. Petersen is right with his concern. Who needs to see a 12yr. old raped especially in this day and age, where everything in the news is about pedophiles and child molesters.

The bad thing is the Director of the film (Deborah Kampmeier) is Nominated for Grand Jury Prize 2007 for this film at the Sundance Film Festival.

 

vallo

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This is quite stunning. Like patful, I saw "Bastard Out Of Carolina" and while Malone gave a wonderful performance I too wondered how the scene would have affected her.

 

With Fanning, who I haven't seen, it's amazing enough that responsible adults would suggest, much less encourage, a child to do but to have her mother there is all the more amazing. The very thing you fear most for your daughter is the thing they are having her do. Simply amazing.

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I agree mrsl. I found it interesting because Mr. Peterson was furious. He talked of bringing charges in North Carolina where the film was produced. Not sure if he will persevere.

 

It was Hannity and Colmes, the interviewer was Colmes, and he was arguing (whether he believed it or was just playing Devil's Advocate, I have no idea) about film as art and free speech and all that.

 

Peterson, on the other hand, was wide eyed and incredulous, asking him if he actually believed a rape scene of a child was art. His point, correct in my opinion, is that this is child abuse.

 

Now, keep in mind that FOX is owned by Rupert Murdoch so that sheds some light on Colmes's opinion, if it were true as presented.

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If you smack your child in a supermarket when he's acting up or knocking over a display, any shopper can have you taken in for child abuse. I don't care how fake it was, her mother should have been corrected in some way. Sounds like she's an example of the parents living off the child's income like Gary Coleman and McCauley Culkin. The attack on the little girl in "A Time for a Kill' was bad enough, and they only showed her feet, but the memory of it was stamped in my brain for the entire movie, as well as days afterward.

 

Anne

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A report from AOL:

 

 

Furor Over 12-Year-Old Fanning's Rape Scene

The New York Times

 

LOS ANGELES (Jan. 22) ? Dakota Fanning will turn 13 next month, and she has a short answer for anyone who questions her decision to play a 1950s girl who gyrates in her underwear, wakes up as her naked father climbs into her bed, demands that a prepubescent boy expose himself to her in exchange for a kiss and, finally, is raped by a teenager who lures her with tickets to an Elvis concert:

 

She?s growing up. Get used to it.

 

Ms. Fanning, best known for leading roles in children?s movies like ?Dreamer? and ?Charlotte?s Web,? thrillers like ?Man on Fire? and ?War of the Worlds,? and the horror film ?Hide and Seek,? now is starring in ?Hounddog,? an independent film that is to have its premiere on Monday at the Sundance Film Festival. It has already won attention far out of proportion to its budget of less than $4 million.

 

When ?Hounddog? was still shooting last summer near Wilmington, N.C., rumors about the rape scene kicked up a storm on the socially conservative end of the Web spectrum. Some suggested that Ms. Fanning was being exploited by the filmmakers, her parents and her agent. Hundreds signed a petition to persuade a local district attorney to prosecute the filmmakers under a law banning simulated sex with a minor.

 

The furor hampered the production, and it continues on Fox News and on Web sites like A Minor Consideration (minorcon.org), run by Paul Petersen, an advocate for child actors. Mr. Petersen, himself a former child actor who played Donna Reed?s son on her 1960s sitcom, said in an interview that Ms. Fanning should never have been allowed to play the victim in a rape scene, no matter how much she wanted to or how sensitively it was filmed, and that her doing so violated the letter of federal child-pornography law.

 

?Nothing excuses it,? he said. ?The plain cold fact is this is illegal, the statutes are what they are, and Hollywood chose to ignore it. If they?d made the character 15, and hired a 19-year-old, they wouldn?t have heard a peep out of me.?

 

More From The TimesUnabomber Wages Legal Battle to Halt the Sale of Papers Clock Ticking, Speechwriters for Bush Seek Perfect PitchTaking Middle Schoolers Out of the MiddleElection Ad Aggravates a Racial Divide in AtlantaFaith in Quick Test Leads to Epidemic That Wasn'tBut the Wilmington district attorney, who was shown a cut of the movie, said no crime was committed, and the film?s writer and director, Deborah Kampmeier, said Ms. Fanning was treated more than appropriately: Though her character, Lewellen, disrobes under duress, for example, she is not seen nude, and Ms. Fanning was always clothed during the production.

 

Ms. Fanning, for her part, says she is mystified by the outcry. Anyone who sees the film, she said on Monday in her first interview on the subject, would understand that the rape scene wasn?t the point of the movie.

 

?That?s not who Lewellen is,? she said, sitting in her agent?s office in Universal City, braces on her teeth and a small crucifix over her sweater. ?Because that has happened to her, that doesn?t define her. Because of this thing that has happened ? that she did not ask for ? she is labeled that, and it?s her story to overcome that and to be a whole person again.?

 

?There are so many children that this happens to, every second,? she added. ?That?s the sad part. If anyone?s talking about anything, that?s what they should be talking about.?

 

Her mother, Joy Fanning, waited outside, and her agent, Cindy Osbrink, sat in, but it was Ms. Fanning who fielded the questions, and who made clear that her choices were, well, just that.

 

?You know, I?m an actress,? she said. ?It?s what I want to do, it?s what I?ve been so lucky to have done for almost seven years now. And I am getting older. February 23 is my birthday, I?ll be 13 years old. And I will be playing different kinds of roles. I won?t be able to do the things I did when I was 6 years old when I?m 14. And that?s what I look forward to ? getting to play new roles that aren?t too old for me and aren?t too young for me, that are just at the right time.?

 

She added: ?Lewellen is still very innocent, she?s still a child, but she?s also a little bit wise beyond her years because of the things she?s seen and been through. So I think that I should be able to do what I feel is at the right time for me.?

 

The story of ?Hounddog? is about not just rape but also about the cycle of violence: nearly every major character in it is motherless, wounded, repressed and destructive. Lewellen?s grandmother (Piper Laurie) violates her too, if only with her eyes; her father (David Morse ) has been abusing her more directly, and it appears likely that, if nothing changes, Lewellen will become an abuser too.

 

Ms. Kampmeier said in a telephone interview that she had originally written the character as a 9-year-old, and first signed the actors Robin Wright Penn and Mr. Morse for the project in the late 1990s. But a succession of financial backers withdrew four times in four years, and she set the script aside in 2002 to make ?Virgin,? her first feature, about a pregnant girl who believes that she is carrying God?s child; Ms. Wright Penn played the girl?s mother in the film, which received mixed reviews.

 

When Ms. Kampmeier sent Ms. Fanning the script for ?Hounddog? in July 2005, Ms. Fanning said: ?The bottom line was, I couldn?t not do it. It?s all I could think about. I knew I was at the perfect age.?

 

She had to wait nine months as Ms. Kampmeier hunted for investors; the subject matter remained objectionable to most, even with a proven star in the central role, the director said. (Making the most of that delay, Ms. Fanning said, the director sent her an e-mail message with a new question about Lewellen each morning: Favorite color? Favorite food? ?That?s why I was so comfortable in Lewellen?s skin,? Ms. Fanning said, ?because I knew so much about her.?)

 

Ms. Kampmeier said investors kept balking at the rape scene, demanding that it be shunted off-screen, merely implied or removed from the plot altogether.

 

About the online petitions to have her arrested, she said that the district attorney?s office in Wilmington was busy prosecuting real sex crimes, like one in which a 10-year-old girl was impregnated by her father. ?All these cases are reported in the newspaper, and nobody ever calls them about that,? she said. ?But they get 10 to 20 calls a day from people insisting that my movie be prosecuted.?

 

Ms. Fanning said the most taxing scene for her was one in which her sleeping character is covered by snakes that slither in through the open window of her tumbledown shack.

 

But it may be an earlier pivotal scene that draws more critical attention, should ?Hounddog? find a distributor. In it Lewellen sings and dances her best Elvis impression ? horizontally, on her bed ? upon learning that the singer is coming to town. While she does, however, a teenage milkman is in the room, looking on a little too hungrily.

 

Overly sexual behavior in minors is often a telltale sign of prior abuse, and provocation is, unfortunately, in the eye of the provoked. But to Ms. Kampmeier?s mind, and more important, to Ms. Fanning?s, Lewellen?s dancing in this scene is as innocent as her already corrupted life can get.

 

?She?s 12 years old,? Ms. Fanning said. ?She?s doing that because that?s fun. She?s not going so far as to think, ?Oh, am I doing something wrong?? or ?Is this going to look in a weird way?? He?s just her milkman. He?s coming to pick up the empties.?

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Ethics aside, remember how effectively writers, producers, directors, and actors used to be able to suggest something (such as rape, in "Johnny Belinda") without being oh-so graphic about it and leaving not only nothing to the imagination, but the participants and viewers desensitized besides? How Hollywood has devolved...

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I haven't read the whole thread, but I believe it's the parents responsibility to keep their children out of situations that could do harm to them physically or emotionally.

 

I don't agree with parents forcing very young children into modeling careers or acting. Let them be a child and decide what they want to do when they grow up.

 

On a side note - I'm very opposed to Bindi Irwin (8-year old daughter of the late crocodile hunter Steve Irwin) doing her own show with dangerous animals. What kind of mother would let this precocious child (who acts like a grown woman), have her own show with wild animals? Even her 2-year old son love snakes and alligators. I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I don't agree with the whole thing though.

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Agree with your side-note, Twister... If there's anything -- twisted -- it's the media making an idol of this little girl... And the little girl herself seems a bit "chilling" to me (if my dad had died when I was 8, I'd have been inconsolable; aren't kids today just a little TOO resilient??? One can't help but think of "The Bad Seed" and her amazing ability to bounce back from life's tragedies; "Mother, I didn't get to eat my lunch when that little boy drowned on the picnic; could I please have a sandwich?"). Her mother actually asked a child psychologist about that one because it kind of freaked her out, too; she was reassured the daughter was handling it "very well." Hmm, okay. But I don't have the world's highest opinion of the dad, either (I believe he harrassed and provoked animals, including the one who killed him, most likely), but that's show biz. And why I watch PBS/TCM...

 

But we digress...

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>

> I don't agree with parents forcing very young

> children into modeling careers or acting. Let them

> be a child and decide what they want to do when they

> grow up.

>

> On a side note - I'm very opposed to Bindi Irwin

> (8-year old daughter of the late crocodile hunter

> Steve Irwin) doing her own show with dangerous

> animals. What kind of mother would let this

> precocious child (who acts like a grown woman), have

> her own show with wild animals? Even her 2-year old

> son love snakes and alligators. I guess the apple

> doesn't fall far from the tree. I don't agree with

> the whole thing though.

 

Twister, I also don't agree with parents FORCING children into careers in the modeling or entertainment industry. However, some children, such as Dakota Fanning and Bindi Irwin seem to already know that they want to pursue careers in these fields. The positive or negative effects of the experience that the child has seems to depend on many factors--the parents, the projects, the agents, the amount of talent/drive that the child possesses, etc. Watching the recent Private Screenings on TCM with child stars Margaret O'Brien, Jane Withers, Dickie Moore and Darryl Hickman, I found it interesting how different each of their experiences in show business were.

 

I have always known that I wanted to work in the theatre--from the age of 3 or so! We didn't live in L.A. or New York, so my mother got me involved in community theatre. Had I the opportunity to audition for tv or film when I was a kid, I would have.

 

Sandy K

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> Agree with your side-note, Twister... If there's

> anything -- twisted -- it's the media making an idol

> of this little girl... And the little girl herself

> seems a bit "chilling" to me (if my dad had died when

> I was 8, I'd have been inconsolable; aren't kids

> today just a little TOO resilient??? One can't help

> but think of "The Bad Seed" and her amazing ability

> to bounce back from life's tragedies; "Mother, I

> didn't get to eat my lunch when that little boy

> drowned on the picnic; could I please have a

> sandwich?"). Her mother actually asked a child

> psychologist about that one because it kind of

> freaked her out, too; she was reassured the daughter

> was handling it "very well." Hmm, okay. But I don't

> have the world's highest opinion of the dad, either

> (I believe he harrassed and provoked animals,

> including the one who killed him, most likely), but

> that's show biz. And why I watch PBS/TCM...

>

> But we digress...

 

Otterhere, my father died when I was 9 years old and I didn't cry about it until I was 13. I was sad, I missed my dad, but I didn't really know how to process my grief at that age. It was easier for me to cry while watching Snoopy Come Home than at the funeral home. One can never predict how someone (of any age) will respond to the death of a loved one. There is no correct way to grieve. Also, we only see Bindi Irwin on tv interviews--who knows what goes on in the privacy of their home?

 

Sandy K

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> It has long been the tradition of The New York Times

> to refer to individuals by their old-fashioned

> courtesy titles after the first reference to their

> names.

 

Miss = title for unmarried females

Mrs = title for married women

Ms = title for women of ambiguous marriage status

 

As far as I'm aware, 12-year-olds are not legally allowed to marry in any state in America. Something about the use of "Ms" for underage girls really strikes me as odd.

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Agree Twister. I think a young child wouldn't know that they want to get into acting, modeling, etc. if the parent didn't encourage it. A 5 year old would rather play with dolls or toy cars than know to be an actor or actress or walk down a runway. Usually, the parents want to share in the fame and money, but it really isn't letting the child grow naturally.

 

I also have seen Bindi Irwin and find it very distressing at how "adult" this 8 year old talks and acts. Her mother says she wants to have her own show. Who's in charge here? A mother who agrees to let a child near crocodiles, snakes and other dangerous animals has to really be examined. These people can do all the foolish things they want - but to let a child do that is ridiculous.

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> Miss = title for unmarried females

> Mrs = title for married women

> Ms = title for women of ambiguous marriage status

>

> As far as I'm aware, 12-year-olds are not legally

> allowed to marry in any state in America. Something

> about the use of "Ms" for underage girls really

> strikes me as odd.

 

I think it's a little odd that THIS is what sticks out for you out of this whole mess.

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Movie... If you want to see "who's in charge here," just watch one episode -- one half an episode -- of that reality show about the British nanny who comes into a modern American household to restore order (from what I saw from my one episode, she didn't do much good)... Or try to have a nice, quiet dinner in any modern American restaurant!!! The kids are definitely running the show here...

 

Sandy... I appreciate your perspective and realize that this is the usual take on behavior such as Bindi's, it's just as possible that she's one of the cold-blooded types; have we ever before seen kids actually murdering each other in schools?

 

There IS such a thing as sociopathy and, for a grief-stricken little girl, she sure seems to be lovin' the attention. I think her mother's rather horrified at it all???

 

What was that movie about a generation of kids with no souls; were they aliens?

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I get her point, though... This is just one small example of "rushing" kids into adulthood; esp. girls into sexualized clothing, makeup, and roles in life... Ms. is for WOMEN -- not 12-year-old girls. Not the biggest deal, but a definite sign.

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Brad... It's not a question of criminality, but of age-appropriateness... According to my online dictionary, Ms. is "a title of respect prefixed to a woman's name." Note that it says "woman" and not "12-year-old girl."

I think that's where some of us have a problem with it.

 

Message was edited by:

otterhere

 

Message was edited by:

otterhere

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I can't add much more than what's already been said, but I did see Bindi and Terri Irwin on Larry King Live recently and the mother Terri Irwin said that "she doesn't mind being known as Bindi Irwin's mother". That shows you were she's at. Remember these were parents who saw no harm in dangling a one-month old baby in front of a crocodile.

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