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Henson versus Hanson Land

Henson versus Hanson Land
by Tony Phillips

As I woke on Sunday to the changed clock I foolishly turned on the radio and was suddenly transported into a world of foofaraw. A bevy of Labor politicians and me-too Liberals were railing again in moral panic about that artist/fiend Henson actually being invited to a primary school in his quest for possible models. Had the clock actually gone back, like 50 years? Or just 4 or 5 months?

The Sunday Age even headlined Victorian Premier Brumby conducting a “probe” over the matter. Such behaviour certainly seemed alien to me. Like the PM I felt “horrified and revolted”. But not by the event but by this media report.

Briefly I contemplated the possibilities of succession. Could the inner suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne, the civilised world, get out of this starkly Hanson Australia and make it to a Henson one? By civilised I mean civil, tolerant, secular and lacking in respect for ignorance. Able to distinguish between different spheres of human activity, knowing something about such human activities as art, and lacking in prurience.

This would not do of course, it was the heights of arrogance and ignorance to think it would. The inner suburbs are by no means uniformly civil, in fact possibly less so these days since the cost of entry is so high. Nor have I any reason for believing the middle and outer suburbs, and the regions, don’t have plenty of people who would also flee a Hanson Australia given a chance.

Yet this was another Hanson type phenomenon, the absolute downside of democracy with its race to the bottom. Populist poll driven politicians, yelling in chorus behind the pack, terrified of producing any sort of leadership for fear they might incur blame. A similar logic was evident in the United States all last week over the Wall Street bailout. In the Henson case it’s not about pollies appealing to the majority, the majority is in all likelihood made up in small part by those appalled at the philistinism and witch-hunting, and a larger group to whom the issue is of little real concern one way or the other. They see it precisely as a foofaraw. However, since Henson’s photography has been associated with “children” and “sex” it is a red button issue for the mass media and has resonance in swing voter land. This is an area that, if not exactly contiguous with Hanson land, overlaps with much of it. These are votes both sides of politics want and, as we can see, are willing to stoop down very low to get.

So Henson is vilified for pursuing his art and the rest of us disgraced just to pander to probably less than 10% of the population, the hysterics, the damaged, the ignorant and the superstitious. Led of course by the moralizers and wowsers always ready to demand a restriction of our freedom to their standards. As David Marr pointed out on Radio National on Monday morning, the issue of protection of children, which is a real issue, is one that the moral police gravitate to because it is one of the last areas where their demands might be heard. In such cases of moral panic the liberalism and the democracy begin to part ways as a media fed mob mentality rises.

What to do? Well first we can keep railing at ignorance, though it’s a never ending task. Second, turn the guns of liberalism on the outrageous remarks of the politicians. Henson has done nothing wrong under the law and for lawmakers to be carrying in this manner is actually an appalling dereliction of their role in our political system. Indeed arguably undermining of it. They need to be called on this, every one of them.

Apart from that, I note the big thing pollies all understand is votes, unfortunately only as geographically distributed. They need to be focused by the emergence of a Henson group of voters, who will be resolutely not voting for illiberal cretins in future elections. Which I guess brings me back, not very enthusiastically, to the inner suburbs. Perhaps we can hope that these seats can become much more marginal in future. Preferably they should be in danger of being a major-party-free-zone. For this to be effective it will have to include Liberal as well as Labor seats, otherwise the result will just be a return to the wedge politics on race and other Hansonisms so profitably pursued by John Howard. But I certainly don’t want to vote for the kinds of dickheads I heard making puffery on the radio on Sunday morning and I hope there are very many currently on both sides of the big Party divide who will agree.

Further reading

Marr in the SMH Monday 6 October http://www.smh.com.au/news/entertainment/arts/bdavid-marrb-rage-ignores-some-facts/2008/10/05/1223145173119.html

Peter Craven in The Age Monday 6 October http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/no-nudes-today-zealots-rule-ok-20081005-4udi.html

A report of Julia Gillard’s frankly embarrassing interview on the ABC website http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/10/05/2382327.htm

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Go to blazes, Jenny

Jenny Hume, whether in the context of the other photo or not, you have already asked this question of me, in what I now consider a repeated approach.  I consider your repeated ignorance of my opinion regarding my parenting as affronting and insulting,

Here and now.  My daughter has indicated to me that she would not want to be involved in a picture which showed her nipples and genitalia. Other than that she might be happy to participate.  She would participate only in a situation where she not only trusted my judgement that the environment was ok, but  also where her instincts rang true.

We lknow  what we're doing,and quite frankly If you want to judge our approach to life  and put words in my mouth about how I raise my daughter, you can take your holier-than-thou words-in-mouth and place them elsewhere.  

As a parent off a prepubescent child my stomach's been churning at what I've read on this thread, and a little ditty by Breaker Morant has sprung into my head for the first time in years:

One fox-faced virigin, word for word,

repeats each scandalous thing she's heard

and smiles, as each new gossip slips

with gusto from her thin white lips

She's bad enough, but wait a minute-

beside her mate she isn't in it

This latter lady, ''pon my word,\

repeats things she has never heard.

-from Pro Hart's Breaker Morant, by (aunt) Dawn Ross, circa 1981

Ignore and dismisss my philosophies in rasing my child, Jenny Hume, That s fine.  As far as I'm concerned you only want to hear the sound of your own voice.  You're obviously deaf to mine.


"Go To Blazes, Jenny." What in hell were you thinking of when you came up with that most inappropriate  title Richard?

Why could you just not say that you disagreed with Jenny? 

I know that we do not agree on this issue, Richard but I think you are taking things a bit far when you say to Jenny:

 "We know  what we're doing,and quite frankly If you want to judge our approach to life  and put words in my mouth about how I raise my daughter, you can take your holier-than-thou words-in-mouth and place them elsewhere."

Honestly, I cannot see where she is passing judgement on you at all. Nor is she dismissing your "philosophies in raising my own child," In my opinion, this is surely some sort of misunderstanding.

Rude. crude, abusive and offensive Richard

Richard, I will let others decide for themselves whether this is an apt title for your comment to me which you chose as moderator yourself to publish, not wanting to risk it being DNP'd by someone more objective.

For other Webdiarists to evaluate your offensive allegations, here is the comment by me to which you were responding. If anyone can see in that comment any judgment about how Richard might or might not be raising his daughter or about his parenting then please point it out to me, for, from my position I state there was no such judgement made or intended.

Here is the supposedly offensive allegation against his parenting:

Richard, I asked a very valid question on this thread of Paul Walter, but agree did suggest other pro Henson supporters might respond. The question specifically asked whether Paul would agree to his daughter or granddaughter posing in that way for Henson to photograph and for the picture to be put on public display..

The that way specifically refers to the photo Kathy posted here which many think is even worse than those that were the subject of the other thread.

Now, you chose to answer. No one forced you to, but you simply referred back to your position in regard to the other photos, where your answer it seems was not a categorical No. I read you as saying that if your daughter agreed, and you were comfortable about it, then the answer would be Yes. I do not believe I put words in your mouth by saying that.

You cannot have it both ways. It is either yes, or no. Most I suggest would read your position as a Yes, albeit a considered yes but still a yes. I do not make any judgments about you on the basis of that by the way. In fact, if you do not think Henson's works pose the issues that others raise here, it would be dishonest of you to answer otherwise - in my view.

If you wonder why I do not respond to the comments of another party on this thread then I suggest to that party that the reason is obvious. That person has to me an exceedingly nasty manner in all his responses to Kathy and any who do not agree with him. If it raises his ire that I will not respond to his sneers and sarcasm and the fact that I will not agree with what he writes, well tough. I am not obliged to respond to comments that clearly are designed only to play the person, not the ball.

I will however respont to his claim that he answered my question by posting his so-called reply and let others decide for themselves.

I will not engage with you or him further on this thread. Say what you like, be rude crude abusive and offensive. I will not lower myself to join with you.

No ifs or buts about it

Richard Tonkin: There can be no ifs or buts about it. People either think the portrayal of that young girl in that way, and publication of the image is acceptable or they do not.

Now if they think it is acceptable then it would be sheer total hypocrisy to say that they would not let or want their own daughter or granddaughter be the subject of such.

Circumstances you say. The circumstances are simple. A professional photographer approaches you and shows you that image and says I'd like to do one of your daughter like that and put it in a public gallery, and it would also appear on the internet. Would you say yes, I agree, or not? .

The girl is clearly under the age of consent. So as a parent you either agree or you don't. There is no in between.

I think the queston poses a dilemma for the men here who profess support for Henson over this sort of so called art work. Which is probably why there is no response from most to my question. A choice between being honest and being hypocritical I suppose. So they say nothing.

You at least had a go, but we are referring to this particulary image as Kathy pointed out. So what is your view on that particulary image? Would you agree to your daughter being that model for that photo? Yes or No? If not, why not?


Small things amuse small minds.

Jenny, why is it that some of you can't get the thing into proportion. We are not talking about something along the lines of the Nagasaki Bomb or Treblinka Concentration camp here.

We are not even talking about genuine pornography of the sort Kathy Farrelly describes as, "with every orifice full".

We have absolutely no evidence anyone has been harmed in the slightest, or that the relevant authorities or parents have been concerned.

Why , in a world of real tragedy and injustice, are  certain people fixated to the point of oblivion of all else, on this microscopic, petty bloody mole hill of an issue  that some seem to regard as of greater moment even, than Everest itself?

Ride the boundary fence watchfully

Ok Paul Walter, all you want us to discuss on WD is what you think we should discuss. Fair enough, then put up some threads for discussion.

Has it not occurred to you however that crossing the boundaries of human deceny and behaviour towards children is in fact what allows them to be so abused around the world - starved, trafficked, used as slave labour, forced into marriages far too young to be permanently injured trying to give birth - need I go on?

Boundaries and benchmarks, as Malcolm points out are what you have to guard in any society and value. If you don't then you only have to look around the world to see the result. 

Is it not boundaries and benchmarks that Marilyn is on about, in her concern for the treatment of refugee children? Boundaries that were moved - by the Government.

I think you need to think outside the square Paul.  The welfare of children in every respect can only be achieved if boundaries are set on how adults treat them or exploit them, be it for art, or for profit through the pushing of such things as alcopops, cigarettes, junk food, or in institutions and yes, in refugee detention centres.

Guard the boundaries. If you don't the unacceptable soon becomes the norm, and then you are on a slippery slope.

That is what this is about Paul, not molehills.

Now tell, me would you allow your daughter or granddaughter to be photographed by Henson like that and put on public display. If not, why not? I ask that also of the others here who think the photo is innocuous and acceptable.

outside the box?


All you want folk to discuss ( eg employ as a platform for abuse ) , Jenny, is the rubbish exploitative idiots like Miranda Devine peddle.

Have indeed being trying to think "outside the box", but that's all some of you want to think and talk about...

And what's this nonsense about the welfare of children?

No one has been hurt here.But,  If I mention the "welfare" of hundreds of millons of actually dying or greivously suffering children in that vast geographical injustice that is theThird World, I am berated by some as "preaching".

Well I'd rather be abused for a real cause than "preaching" a politicised gimmick.

Is that he best you can do Paul?

Is that the best you can do Paul, dismiss without any substance. You may not think this is about boundaries in terms of how children are exploited but others do. And we are entitled to that viewpoint.

I notice you did not answer the question (see hereunder) I put with a NO, so I presume the answer is yes.

"Now tell, me would you allow your daughter or granddaughter to be photographed by Henson like that and put on public display. If not, why not? I ask that also of the others here who think the photo is innocuous and acceptable."

Not too many answers coming in to that I note.

It would have to be yes, if you were all consistent in your stance. I take it you like to be consistent Paul?  

Now don't tell me you've been wasting time reading Miranda, when there are so many more important things to do? Why even I have not gotten around to her latest.  I really do not need Miranda to tell me what to think - or to know that photo is very disturbing as Malcolm says. 

What is your problem Paul? You seem rather pre-occupied in trying to put the likes of us girls right about Henson and his so called art. Surely if you practiced what you preached you would concentrating your energies elswhere.

No offence Paul, just bemused at your attitude.  


One last plea- clean up your Palinesque minds and get yourselves into the real world of horrific injustice and suffering.

Start with three hundred million people in India living on thirty cents a day, or the refugees starving and freezing up in the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan."

an overview

You accuse me of preaching, Kathy?

You are not guilty of this?


"We aren't such a bad bunch here".

 I doubt it. For my self am human, which means both the bright side and the dark side.

Ok,ok, I understand that most  anti Hensonites are motivated by concern at the protection and exploitation of children. I'd be disappointed if at least some folk didn't question Henson. But not only Henson .

  Far worse than Henson, and these huge influences covert , surreptitious and genuinely explopitative rather than upfront and discursive like Henson- eg marketeers and corporate psychologists for huge corporations who have a whole generation of young girls debilitated  on  anorexia and brainwashed as to the uses of sex and the beauty /appearances/"entertainment" industry. 

Let's not forget that no physical,sexual behaviour took place, a court determined (appropos Brian Bahnisch elsewhere!), with Henson. That would have been against Henson's objectives!

Do some of you understand that after decades of politicians trying to roll back civil liberties and bring in totalitarian laws, that in the light of the history of the Third Riech etc, the opposite viewpoint's motives are "honest ", also?

You cannot risk even the possibility of compromise as to a child's safety, but I believe there can be no compromise in the battle against censor ship and totalitarian forces that would reduce the same young girl to slavery even more than already, in this already very provisional, imperfect society "on the edge".  Sadly, both causes are right and at worst there does seem a self defeating  conflict. Such is life.

Let's hope these conversations clear the air and focus attention to those dark unrealised cognitive places that until now have escaped  scrutiny-  but I doubt it.

Misunderstandings and assumptions.

You misunderstand me Richard. Paul is making an assumption based on something that I said. My husband believed the picture to be erotic, he never said that it turned him on. Paul made that assumption.

 That is why I asked him if he got turned on everytime he saw a sexy woman READ WOMAN not girl. Please do not imply otherwise Richard.

Making an observation that a picture is erotic and inapropriate does not mean that you are turned on by it. In fact  hubby found the picture quite repugnant.

A young girl in an adult female pose!


Mmn maybe I owe some sort of apology. The annoyance, to put it mildly, I felt at the knee jerk populism of Rudd, Gillard, Turnbull et.al. may have got in the way of following my own recommendation, to disabuse ignorance.

So perhaps to remedy this: Kathy and Jenny, Gillard was wrong, it was a sensible sounding platitude but that’s not the current policy, maybe it should be, but that means a whole bunch of activities that involve recruitment of children would not happen. No Summer Heights High for example. As the stories I linked to made clear, Henson was shown around in the company of a teacher, he did not speak to any children, and he asked the school to contact the parents of two to see if they would interested in having their children model for him. One family declined, the other accepted. Apparently it is not unusual for either sporting or entertainment agents/coaches to approach schools in a quest for talent. There should be protocols for this and are. We can ask, are they adequate and acceptable and how do we ascertain this? Maybe Jenny and Gillard are correct, it never is acceptable. Many parents might say otherwise and have been. But such worthwhile questions are not answered by hysterical reactions to an artist that the ignorant and hysterical have associated in their minds with pedophilia.

Anthony, as for people with damaged or traumatic histories of abuse and their reactions. Understandable and I am sorry for their pain. Doing something about childhood abuse is a real issue, though as Marr noted it’s more often found in other places, advertising and religious institutions come to mind, and has never been linked to Bill Henson. However, I do not think we can make public policy or all live our lives bound by reactions based on this perspective. This is not tenable. For example, some men have raped some women, this is terrible, unacceptable and the men involved should be punished. Moreover, we must always consider ways in which the likelihood of this occurring in the future can be put in place. However, a reaction that put women in veils, separated men and women by gender, kept males on a diet of bromide etc. would plainly be a cost too high and too disproportionate, and possibly even dysfunctional. Yet such a demand would be quite understandable coming from a victim or relative of victim. In my view, as I wrote, such traumatized are in fact victims again to the hysterics and moral police who muster the victims’ experience to make demands for control over everyones’ lives. The wowsers’ endpoint is a sterile fundamentalist theocracy in which I have no desire to live.

Overall could I please entreat people to read and listen to the links I gave before jumping to conclusions about what happened and what the argument is. Then by all means disagree with me, I welcome the discussion, good heavens you may even change my mind. I try and keep it open, though as for most of us it seems fitted with a spring that likes to keep pulling it closed, perhaps because it’s afraid too many mozzies will get in!

Granted Jenny

I can agree that Henson shouldn't actually be on the school grounds and I think he made a error by doing so.

No other civilian can do likewise. It would probably have been better if the headmaster had notified all parents that Henson had a project and was looking for subjects and perhaps those interested could come with their parents to a night time meeting.

There is the claim though that scouts for sporting and acting groups also scout for talent - I don't know if this true - but if there is a rule it has to be applied to everyone.

One thing that's come out of this - David Marr is pretty good at winkling information out of a subject, or Henson doesn't really care one way or the other as I doubt anything will result from this latest controversy.

It's still really a storm in a teacup and I don't believe it reflects too well on us in a cultural fashion.

Consider two films that spring to mind, Lord of The Flies from the 1960's. A highly acclaimed film in its time, about a group of school kids plane wrecked on an island without adults and how they split into groups, choose a leader , run riot and turn on other kids for no particular reason. A recent BBC series put a bunch of kids together in a house for a week unsupervised and pretty well the same thing happened. However the film (from memory) had boys shedding their clothes in a fairly authentic manner. I bet that same film couldn't be made today but it's regarded as a classic and there wasn't a peep at the time about child nudity nor has any actor come forward claiming their life has been ruined (although some have grown up to be adult actors).

Contrast that with a film from a decade later, Death In Venice, from a book by the brilliant  Thomas Mann. It's about a middle-aged man suddenly drawn to the beauty of a young teen boy on holiday in Venice. There is no nudity at all.

Yet when Germaine Greer released her highly controversial book The Beautiful Boy with the star of that film on the cover he claimed he felt used and abused ( although I can't see why except perhaps because Greer was claiming that women can see great beauty in young men and perhaps he resented this - being no longer young!)

How do you measure altruism?

"...lacking in respect for ignorance. "

Excellent t-shirt idea, that.

"Populist poll driven politicians, yelling in chorus behind the pack, terrified of producing any sort of leadership for fear they might incur blame."

Maybe. It's also diversionary. You know, like Hugo Chavez or Robert Mugabe or some right wing equivalent will need to divert attention from their failing regimes so they whip up a bit of hysteria about some insidious 'evil out there', the British Empire, alien conspirators or other fantasy object.

This is exactly the sort of thing Howard was accused of doing over Tampa.

Henson's perfect because he's probably constitutionally incapable of reducing himself to the level of his critics. So, he's a free kick.

For example, I don't think he participated in the 20/20 event, did he?

Maybe Rudd could organise another such 'summit', perhaps based around the Jerry Springer show:

Its guests are typically lower class, minimally-educated, blue collar people confronted on a television stage with a spouse or family member's adultery, homosexuality, prostitution, transvestism, hate group membership, or other controversial situations.

Sounds perfect. Hetty could co-host it. Julia could be the barrel girl.

Kathy Farrelly: "He was there to feather his own nest,  not for altruistic reasons."

Do the teachers get paid? How altruistic are they? And how do you measure altruism?

Turn it up Eliot

 Eliot: "Kathy Farrelly: "He was there to feather his own nest,  not for altruistic reasons."

Do the teachers get paid? How altruistic are they? And how do you measure altruism?"

You are joking, right Eliot?

One does not become a teacher for the money. (They could earn a helluva lot more in many other professions.) One becomes a teacher because one loves children.

Having many relatives and friends who are teachers, and knowing intimately well the teachers at my children's school, especially the aides, I can certainly tell you that money was not the motivating factor for their chosen profession.

When my son (who is autistic) drew his first recognizable picture at the age of 5 ( of mum and dad and he and his sister in the family car,) there was much cause for jubilation amongst his teachers and aides. Even the vice principal, who gives up her lunch hour twice a week to supervise my son in the playground, was so excited that she had a copy made and framed and placed in the Administration office.

Most teachers are dedicated loyal and caring people. I have not yet come across one who is not.

They are shaping our children's futures by providing them with an education.

Whether they are paid or not is immaterial.It is a job that they love, and they derive much pleasure and satisfaction from seeing a child  learn and progress.

What was Henson doing for the kids eh? 

What did they learn from his playground wanderings?

Is that how it happens Jenny?

Although I don't know how Henson really went about choosing models at whatever school he was at but I find it stretching credibility to say that kids were probably paraded before him while he gave a Caeser's nod of which one was relegated to the ugly pile and which went to a queue for later inspection.

From the little I read of Marr's piece ( couldn't bother buying the SMH just for that) it sounded like Henson spotted a couple of models purely for facial features as is a photographer's wont, and had the headmaster approach them.

I think the scenario you are painting is highly far fetched.

Mine of course is there on television for the world to see and involves demolishing a person's hopes and dreams in front of the entire world, but the idea that children are such extraordinary wilting flowers that when a person in authority - the headmaster - approaches and says someone wants to speak to them with their parents about appearing in a photograph at which time they are given the full particulars, would damage a child is ludicrous.

This argument is disolving into some sort of mad voodoo logic where persons are almost claiming the camera has captured the soul of these children. It's nonsense.

The most damaging thing to date has been PM Rudd and the just booted premier Iemma ( and all the others) saying they found these photos "disgusting" or "revolting" which is almost includes  the subjects themselves. Their language could be more prudent even if they do object to them which they have a right to.

So far, not one single person has been able to present proof that these pics have had or will have any damaging effect upon these kids in later life. Henson's pics aren't the first to depict young people like this - it's been happening since the invention of the camera but the hysteria is a new phenomena.

Throw in the bizarre conflicts in actual law which some lawyers don't even seem to comprehend.

Over at Crikey Peter Faris QC is on his usual rant that the stocks should be rolled out and Henson pilloried and demands he be prosecuted along with the headmaster (and warns of the grave 10 year sentence on offer) despite the DPP declining to for lack of evidence. No worries for Faris - he's spoken to a policeman who thinks otherwise except as we often find, policemen don't always know the law.

The law on child porn states that the child must be in a deliberate sexually provocative pose but that also carries worries in itself. What is provocative to you and me may not be to another and visa versa.

That law also includes depictions of children, as in drawings cartoons and paintings (and bizarrely, written form). But our national galleries are chock full of paintings and depictions of naked children either on their own or often in the arms of naked adults.

I suppose we are to summise those adults are their mums although why is anyone's guess. Just because the title of that painting may state that it's the "Virgin Mother and the Christ child" how are we to know the artist wasn't laciviously painting a child he perceived to be highly erotic and held by some model of the day he had hired (unless he was actually there at the miracle birth and recording it accurately for posterity).

This is the problem - the extraordinary inconsistency in not only the law (and why aren't these paintings covered and those who run our national galleries prosecuted?) but the acceptance of one art form and not another.

I've never actually seen a Henson work (unlike Malcolm Turnbull who owns 2 but is now caught in a dilemna of his own making - should he condemn da Vinci for his "David" - who it is said was modelled by a 15 year old, or praise him for the Mona Lisa?). I can however recognise "moral panic" when I see it and it ain't a pretty picture.

Missing the point

 I think that you are missing the point here Michael.

Henson should never have been allowed to enter the school grounds.

The principal made a  serious error of judgement.

Here is what Julia Gillard said, again, in case you didn't see it:

"The message just has to be very clear, very simple - people shouldn't be on school grounds unless they're there for a legitimate purpose, associated with the education of Australian young people.''

The question you need to ask, is:  Was Hanson there for a legitimate purpose associated with education?

The answer is of course no.

He was there to feather his own nest,  not for altruistic reasons.

I find that quite distasteful. As Jenny said, if he wants a model  he can go to an agency.

He will of course have to pay for THAT service.

More "pedo panic"

The SMH certainly had it both ways this time. First publishing an extract from Marr's book and then picking a bit out to sensationalise one aspect and cravenly pander to the 'pedo panic" that is usually the preserve of tabloids.

Not that we can expect anything else from the once great Fairfax stable as it begins it's decline into irrelevance (which the News Ltd stable will follow in time).

Personally I don't agree with Jenny Hume's statement "  that schools are places for kids to learn, not for others, be they artists or junk food sellers,"

Schools are mainly glorified child minding centres for parents to place kids. The actually learning of knowledge could take place in about 2 days of the week. The rest of the time is taken up with mindless clutter. Which doesn't mean that those kids shouldn't be safe while they are there but, as usual, panic is abounding with the media sensationalising Henson's visit - as though schools were hunting grounds for dozens of photographers. It simply isn't true.

And why on earth it would make any difference if a model was chosen at school and he/she and parents given the full information and opportunity to agree or decline - as opposed to some other method like advertising or setting up a stall somewhere - is one of life's great mysteries.

The only silly thing about this further beat-up is that Henson actually told Marr about his model recruitment method unless he really doesn't care about the controversy.

Meanwhile there are three TV shows that I know of that induce 18 years olds to pursue a career in modelling which then ruthlessly exploit and embarrass young people at their most vunerable - not as people would have us think, a 14 year old posing for an artistsic snap - but late teens who are going through the traumas of approaching adulthood which makes the "terrible two's" look like a non event.

These late teens are vilified for all sorts of infractions such as not walking correctly, not having the right nose, being slightly "overweight" etc etc. In other words it 's complete garbage aimed at exploiting the vunerability of teens, at their most vunerable, but as it's TV entertainment I don't hear a peep when the Henson beat-up can be exploited.

Meanwhile if anyone is at all interested, the USA (our allies who we are assisting) bombed yet another Afghani village and killed at least 40 children. That's in, blown to smithereeens, hideously mutilated, possibly horribly burned and maimed and maybe took hours to find release in death - but don't worry, you won't read that report in the Daily Telegraph or the SMH. They have more important stories like this mindless rubbish.

Total inconsistency

Michael, you may consider this mindless rubbish but I doubt many agree with you, other than those in the arty circles.

If you are so concerned about the effect on the psychological well being of vulnerable18 year olds, then you might like to reflect on the possible effect of having little kids parade before Henson and such like selectors with the unspoken but obvious - this one yes, that one no. That one yes, very pretty, might make a nice nude model, or film star - that one, no - too ugly. 

You really believe the self esteem of small children cannot be negatively affected by that sort of thing? I would suggest they can, and quite badly. At least an 18 year old is old enough to have some sense of the likely outcome if they put themselves forward.

There is a lack of consistency here on the part of the Henson supporters. On one hand you argue that a 13 year old can be deemed adult enough to make an informed decision to be photographed nude, and that it is Ok for Henson to scout for models in playgrounds; yet you question the role of TV programs designed to recruit 18 year olds as models and such like - at their most vulnerable age you say. I would have thought puberty was a much more vulnerable age, as well as that of early childhood..

The big mystery you cannot grasp. If an artist advertises for child models, then the parents initiate the contact, not the artist. If parents think their kid has talent or would make a good model or whatever, then let them initiate the contact and take their children to auditions. Then the kids who might be rejected in the playground due to their shape or whatever are not subjected to unnecessay feelings of rejection. Can't you just see it: little Katy was accepted and little Jane was rejected. Schools are places where all kids need to feel included, feel equal, and not be sent messages that they are not good or pretty enough.

As for 18 year olds, well they are adults. If they put themselves forward and get hurt there is not much anyone can do about it.  

I fail to see what the relevance of the bombing of a village in Afghanistan, as ghastly as that obviously is, has to do with this issue. We do not drop concern about one issue just because there is another to also be concerned about. 

Oh lawdie, the artistes again

And, they should indeed be entitled to really special exemptions from appraisal of their actions.  As they are.

Just as our really adorable footballers should be entitled to really special exemptions of public appraisal of their actions.  As they are.

The public know nothing.  They should just shut up.  As they do.

Just as such as Tony Phillips recommends.

Sport and art.  Beyond public criticism, unless you can withstand a hail, a barage, an onslaught  of abuse.  End of story.  These are not areas that welcome discussion.

Here we go again.

My responses to this subject on this site are beoming briefer and terser. 

It would be a good idea to familiarise yourself with the consequences of childhood trauma before buying into the idea that those who want a less liberal attitude to the exploitation of children are acting as "moral police" and then suggesting that we are guilty by association of some form of ignorant red-neck Hansonism.

We act out of deep compassion at the suffering of the traumatised and utter loathing of those who exploit children in any way. 

To assist those at the very beginning of the learning curve herewith the URL for an article by the internationally recognised Dr Bessel Van Der Kolk on the consequences and functioning of psychological trauma:


Othewrwise search and familiarise yourself with the terms "betrayal trauma", Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, "child sex abuse", "sex assault" and "patriarchal dividend". 

Get it?

I applaud Julia Gillard for her honesty!

As I said on the "Art,  Australia, and censorship" thread:

Pretty simple really. People have no business being on school grounds unless it is in the interests of the children and their education.

Henson's presence at the school was purely for self serving purposes.

The (then) school principal exhibited poor judgement and lack of  foresight in this instance.

Julia Gillard is correct , Henson should never have been allowed to set foot on school property. He is not an educator,  concerned with the welfare of the children, but a procurer and a user with his own selfish agenda.

The only way?

Is that the only way Henson can find models for his nude children photos? 

He could have avoided all the furore by simply advertising for child models could he not? Mind you, I would be most surprised if the majority of parents, if they discovered he wanted them to pose nude, did not bolt with their kids immediately.

I really get the impression that this man is just plain stupid.  In this day and age parents are more aware than ever of the risks to children of predators so any fool would know that you don't go round primary schools scouting for children to act as models, least of all nude models if that was his intention. 

Now certain posters here went to very great trouble to try to convince the rest of us that the young lady in the earlier photos was 13 or 14, and therefore not a child, and so was old enough to weigh the issues and make an informed decision on the matter.

So if Henson were to pick out a primary school kid and the parents agreed their child could pose for him nude, do they contend that a child in primary school could give informed consent to such?

I think Tony Phillips misses the broader issue, that schools are places for kids to learn, not for others, be they artists or junk food sellers, to be on the playground scouting for opportunities for business of any kind.

If Henson does want to find models, then there are dozens of places he can go and set up a stall and let them or their parents come to him.

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