Nirvana has made the news of late due to the 20th anniversary of their “Nevermind” album.  It is not so much the band or music that is garnering the attention, but rather the iconic album cover featuring a naked baby boy reaching for a $20 bill in the pool.   Facebook has removed the photo from their site citing not child pornography, but their terms of use that do not allow any nudity.  In yesteryear a photo of a naked baby or a baby in the tub was something we all saw, but somewhere over the past decade such photos have become embroiled in the child pornography debate.  In fact, many professional studios will no longer even allow a photograph that show a baby’s bottom.

Sirius XM is featuring Nirvana in a celebration on their Lithium station (ch. 34) this Saturday.  Jon Stewart will host an exclusive Town Hall with original Nirvana band members Krist Novoselic and Dave Grohl, as well as Nevermind’s producer Butch Vig. The event will feature questions from a live studio audience of fans, broadcast from the SiriusXM Studios, in honor of the 20th anniversary of Nevermind’s release.  Listeners can hear the event live September 24 at 8 pm ET, with rebroadcasts September 25 at 12 am, 12 pm & 6 pm ET; September 26 at 9 am & 3 pm ET; September 27 at 12 pm & 9 pm ET.

The issue of whether the photo is appropriate have become a hot topic across the Internet.  I have never heard of anyone being arrested for being in possession of child porn simply by having this CD in their collection, but in some circles I am sure people would believe that should be the case.  Whether this is exploitation of a minor is a debate for another day.

In their September Highlights email to subscribers Sirius XM features an uncensored image of the album cover prominently in the banner.  The banner is an advertisement for the special Nirvana coverage, but I found it interesting that given all of the attention that Nirvana is  getting about this subject (even 20 years later) that Sirius XM would send out such an email.  Ironically on their website Sirius XM crops off the baby’s genitalia and uses the photo that I have used in this article.

What strikes me as odd is that the company used a censored version of the album cover on their website and an uncensored version in an email.  The Lithium webpage on Sirius would most likely be visited by fans of that genre of music and thus people familiar with the fact that it is an album cover.  A mass email will be opened by millions that may not be aware of Nirvana’s album and wonder why Sirius XM is emailing them advertising featuring a naked baby.  Did Sirius XM do this backwards, or are they seeking some sort of attention and controversy from this?  I do not know the answer, but I will bet my bottom dollar that the company is going to see complaints over their decision to include the uncensored naked baby in the email (depicted below with censorship) .

One distinct issue here is that there is simply no clarity that this is an album cover.  To an uninformed person, opening this email could create a surprise and questions in the mind of the recipient regarding Sirius XM.  I am not trying to be a prude about this, I am simply looking at this from the eyes of a typical subscriber.  Had my mother opened this email from Sirius XM, she would have certainly had comments and questions.  She knows who John Stewart is, but would have no idea why a naked baby was sent to her via email.

Sometimes things like this are done to create a buzz and a stir.  I do not think this was the intent of Sirius XM.  I think it was an honest mistake made by someone familiar with Nirvana that did not consider many people out there would be totally taken off guard by the image.  It will be interesting to see what happens with this and if it gains traction the way Facebook did when they removed the image from their site.  Who knows…this could go viral.