This article contains media that the editors have flagged as NSFW.
Wyatt Neumann took to Instagram to post photos he took of his daughter on a road trip. While she was clothed in some images, she was fully or partially nude in a number of them as well. But to Neumann, there was nothing unusual about a two-year-old girl without clothes. What he though was perfectly innocent, many called child pornography. The extreme hatred grew across the Internet, and overnight, his Instagram account was shut down.
Eventually, Newmann's Facebook was shut down, too. Comments flooded all his social media platforms and email inboxes with statements like, "He's an attention seeking fuck. Wake up, Wyatt, you fucking piece of shit."
This response led Neumann to build a gallery show (which he titled after one of these comments), I FEEL SORRY FOR YOUR CHILDREN: The Sexualization of Innocence in America. In fact, Neumann turned many of these comments into a key part of the show in which juxtaposed these quotes with the images that were being commented on. The show, which was held at the Safari Gallery, closed August 21st, but remains online in an entirely different way -- perhaps in its more original form. Comments can still be seen on Neumann's social media accounts, which were turned back on with the "legitimization" of his work through his show.
Naturally, this hatred, along with the temporary shutdown of Newmann's Internet accounts raises questions about censorship, the first amendment and child pornography laws. Does it matter that it was the father that took the photographs and not a stranger? Would one be "better" than the other? Are these photographs truly pornographic? Or is this a view that, perhaps, viewers bring to the table themselves? Does it matter if other, perhaps truly sick, people are sexually aroused by these images despite their original intentions? Does that mean all sexually arousing images, regardless of how we measure that, should be banned from the Internet? Some people are stimulated by inanimate objects and animals. Some may think that is sick, but it's a fact. So where does that leave us? And if "America" is so shy of nudity, why?
Personally, I think the images speak for themselves. There is purely innocence, here. Sexualization isn't created purely from the fact that she is not clothed. She's two years old! Who didn't walk around naked at two? Seeing these images in such a sexualized light in and of itself is, I believe, rather odd. And these are all views that were apparently echoed by hundreds of parents' decisions to take their own children to the gallery show.
In this context, Sally Mann's work simply cannot be ignored. Anyone who remembers the outrage with her images will instantly recognize a similarity in Newmann's situation. While it could be argued that a conversation about child pornography, art and nudity in general hasn't had the same attention given Mann's media circus until now, it is notable that in this case, it is the father that is the photographer, not the mother. Does this change your opinions in any way? What's your opinion?
Note: In the past, readers have commented about the NSFW tag applied to some posts. This decision does not signify our opinions on topics brought up in this post as a group nor as individuals. In this case, it is simply a precaution to be on the "more than safe" side for those in more conservative settings that still wish to read some of the great content Fstoppers provides. Additionally, plenty of the language is quite explicit. Thank you in advance for understanding our choice to keep this content tagged for mature audiences.