Publication Details

McLelland, M. (2019). Young people, online fandom and the perils of child pornography legislation in Australia. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 22 (1), 102-118.


In 1971 the editors of Oz magazine were prosecuted for obscenity in a London courtroom for their infamous ‘School Kids Issue’, almost the entire contents of which had been created by a team of young people. In today’s Web 2.0 environment, similar kinds of content to that featured in the magazine is created by young people and made ubiquitous on fan websites. In particular ‘manips’ (manipulated images) of all kinds of pop culture heroes from boy band members to characters from Harry Potter are inserted into pornographic contexts. Whereas in the 1970s it was obscenity legislation that was used to restrict this form of cultural commentary, today child pornography legislation can be used to capture this content. I argue that changes to child pornography laws across the western world in the last two decades have resulted in the capture of even fictional images that are or may only ‘appear to be’ a person under the age of 18, rendering some aspects of online youth culture problematic. The ‘juridicial discourse’ that increasingly collapses a complex range of cultural representations into the category of child pornography is a cause for concern for all academics working on online youth cultures and for the young people involved

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