Alright, just admit it – you like Gossip Girl. It’s awful, tasteless smut that is corrupting America’s youth. But it’s also kind of fantastic. The beautiful people, the fashionable clothes, the steamy teenage love scenes. It’s the 90210 for a generation that enjoys a more relaxed FCC standard of indecency.
Though I’m a Blair devotee myself, scrappy Jenny Humphrey must have some fans because Taylor Momsen has enjoyed moderate success parlaying her TV fame into music. As lead singer of the “rock” band, The Pretty Reckless, Momsen works hard to cast aside her Upper East Side image in favor of a bad girl who counts Kurt Cobain as a major musical influence. She dresses in black, doesn’t brush her hair, and says edgy things like, “To be honest, I don’t f---ing care. I didn’t get into this to be a role model. So I’m sorry if I’m influencing your kids in a way that you don’t like, but I can’t be responsible for their actions. I don’t care.”
But Taylor may have taken things a bit too far at a recent concert in New York. Apparently overcome by the power of the music, she deliberately pulled down her ripped top to reveal her naked breasts to her lucky audience. Though details were sketchy at first, reports now confirm that she had put black tape over her nipples. Such a sweet girl. ‘Girl’ being an important word choice here. At only seventeen Taylor isn’t quite legal yet.
I know what you’re thinking. What’s the big deal? Who hasn’t exposed their breasts to complete strangers? Whether you remove your shirt at a beach party in Cabo, on a boring road trip, or after a few glasses of wine at a dinner party (um, not that I’m speaking from experience) – it’s just harmless fun. Maybe. Though perhaps it’s worth double checking what the law has to say about this form of self expression.
In general, indecent exposure is deliberate exposure of portions one’s body under circumstances where such an exposure is likely to be seen as contrary to the local commonly accepted standards of decency. As criminal statutes vary by state, we should turn to New York statute §245.01, public exposure. According to this law, a person is guilty of exposure if he appears in a public place in such a manner that the private or intimate parts of his body are unclothed or exposed. For purposes of this section, the private or intimate parts of a female person shall include that portion of the breast which is below the top of the areola (how very specific, New York).
Yes! Taylor’s stunt does seem to meet all of the required elements of this crime. In addition, her potential sentence could be harsher if any of Momsen’s underage friends were in attendance. Exposing oneself in the presence of children is a sure way to increase the severity of the offense.
Oh, but wait. I guess that a good lawyer would read the entire statute before filing the response...
§245.01 goes on to carve out two exceptions to an exposure charge: breastfeeding mothers and “any person entertaining or performing in a play, exhibition, show or entertainment.” While I would contend that the entertainment value of a Pretty Reckless concert is debatable, it would seem reasonable to at least classify it as a “show.”
While Taylor is unlikely to be prosecuted for this latest indiscretion, I would be remiss in ending this article without at least sending out a friendly warning to any gentlemen with photo-capable cell phones. The distribution (and that includes transmission via text) of child pornography is illegal under federal law and in all states. Sure, there is probably some wiggle room for the situation at hand (for example, New York penal code §263 as to ‘sexual performance by a child’ seems to apply only to children under seventeen years of age), but maybe we could agree that it’s wise not to leave a potential spot on the sex offender list to prosecutorial discretion. Better safe than sorry, right?
Besides, if you’re looking for some kiddie porn, you could just watch the show.