Angelina Jolie’s First Nude Scene
December 21, 2010 § Leave a comment
Angelina Jolie is a name you’re probably familiar with. She’s the star of famous films like Gia, George Wallace, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith and has won the Academy Award, the Screen Actors Guild Award, and the Golden Globe.
But before those – way back in 1993 – she appeared in a lower-budget flick called Cyborg 2. It was the first time she took her clothes off on camera, baring her breasts.
Actually, there’s more than just nudity involved. She and Elias Koteas simulate sexual intercourse. Their genitals are never shown but it’s implied that they are going at it while she sits around his midsection and rides him. Her breasts, including nipples, are visible while she rides him. Also, he touches both of her breasts and kisses them. She looks happy and sexually satisfied.
Surprisingly, she was only 17 at the time! Michael Schroeder, the film’s director, went on the record about that:
“It’s her first movie, but I read probably fifty actresses and model types, and it was really difficult to find somebody who had the cyborg quality but still has some kind of presence, and when this girl came in, I knew she had what it takes. Then I found out she’s only seventeen, and we can’t mess around with labor laws and welfare workers and school teachers. I just didn’t have that luxury; I had to shoot, shoot, shoot. She had just finished high school; she had done her junior and senior year in five months – I wish I could have done that! Then I found out later that her father is Jon Voight, so the acting’s definitely in her genes. He knew a judge and made some calls, and we got her emancipated, because she had been living on her own for quite awhile. She just needed to file and get a judge to agree to it, so then we could just work, and we didn’t have to give her special treatment. And she’s a tough girl; she hangs in there until the last shot of the day. She was the most mature seventeen year old I’ve ever met.” [note 1]
It’s undisputed that Jolie was born on June 4, 1975 [note 2].
Anglo-American Film Distributors, Ltd. registered the completed film with the U.S. Copyright Office on May 28, 1993 [note 3]. IMDb says “Filming dates: 28 September 1992 – 11 November 1992” [note 4]. That means every scene was made before Jolie’s 18th birthday.
The entire film was produced in California so the laws at play are those of that state plus those of the U.S. federal government.
Title 18 U.S.C. 2256 defines child pornography at the federal level. According to the recently-added subsection (2)(B)(i) a visual depiction is illegal if it shows “lascivious simulated sexual intercourse where the genitals, breast, or pubic area of any person is exhibited” [note 5]. So it’s irrelevant that Jolie and Koteas didn’t really have sex.
Several states also outlaw depictions of underage simulated sex and breast-touching.
I also took a look at the California Penal Code to try to determine whether Koteas violated a law by touching Jolie’s breasts when she was 17 and he was 31 (his birthdate is March 11, 1961 and filming of the scene occurred in the autumn of 1992).
California Penal Code Section 288 [note 6] says an adult may not sexually touch a person under 16 but says nothing about conduct with 16 and 17 year olds.
Section 269 [note 7] says it’s unlawful to engage in sodomy, oral copulation, sexual penetration, or rape with a child under 14. Again, 17 year olds aren’t covered by that section, nor is breast-touching.
Section 261.5 [note 8] prohibits an adult from having sexual intercourse with a person under 18 but that only includes actual vaginal penetration.
However, Section 288.4 [note 9] says “Every person who, motivated by an unnatural or abnormal sexual interest in children, arranges a meeting with a minor […] for the purpose of […] engaging in lewd or lascivious behavior, shall be punished […]” Does touching a 17 year old girl’s breast count as “lewd or lascivious behavior”? But Koteas was just an actor pretending to be Jolie’s lover, working according to a script prepared for him by the filmmakers, not someone with a “sexual interest” in Jolie.
Section 11165.1 [note 10] includes in its definition of “sexual assault” “The intentional touching of the genitals or intimate parts (including the breasts, genital area, groin, inner thighs, and buttocks) […] of a child, […] for purposes of sexual arousal or gratification”. Since Koteas wasn’t trying to get excited, this doesn’t count against him.
But there’s more. Section 647.6 [note 11] says “Every person who annoys or molests any child under 18 years of age shall be punished”. Is touching a 17 year old girl’s breasts molestation?
Are the makers of the film off the hook under California law at least? Judging by California Penal Code Section 311.4, it appears so. That states that no one may employ or use a person under 18 to create a visual depiction of “actual or simulated” “sexual intercourse”. There’s an exception relevant to this film, though: “This section does not apply to a legally emancipated minor” [note 12].
By contrast, the child pornography sections of U.S. federal law don’t have a provision excluding emancipated minors.
It’s not likely that anyone’s going to be prosecuted for distributing, buying, or owning this film, especially now, nearly two decades after the film was made, but the law is absurd because it does enable prosecution. Just some food for thought for the next time you see some attention-hungry politician or special interest group claim that all child pornography is abusive and involuntary. Do you consider Jolie a victim of child pornography or a willing participant?
1. “Cyborg 2” by Steve Biodrowski, http://hollywoodgothique.com/cyborg21993.html
2. Cited, for example, page 324 in Clifford Thompson’s “Current Biography Yearbook, 2000” (2001), page ix in Kathleen Tracy’s “Angelina Jolie: A Biography” (2008), and page 8 in Jennifer Magid’s “Angelina Jolie” (2008).
3. Application for “Cyborg II, glass shadow”, Registration Number: PAu001753459, Date: 1993-05-28, in the Copyright Catalog (1978 to present), United States Copyright Office, http://cocatalog.loc.gov/