Education and Arts
Communications and Arts, Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts,Technology, Education and Communications
This paper hypothesises that the moral panics around paedophilia have meant that the 'Hollywood treatment' of this theme (in quotation marks, since the films mentioned include independent productions) is more nuanced and contextualised than is found in newspaper coverage. We investigate this possibility by drawing on reports of three high-profile paedophile-related news stories from Australia that ran in the press at the same time as the films to be considered were being screened between 2003 and 2006. The news stories analysed are the manslaughter conviction of child-killer Bill Clare, the controversy over the parole of Western Australian paedophile Otto Darcy-Searle, and the Australian Family Association campaign to ban Gregg Araki's film Mysterious Skin. This mainstream press coverage is contrasted with a range of paedophile-themed fictional films released in the same time period including The Woodsman, Mysterious Skin, little Children, and Notes on a Scandal. In concluding that 'the entertainment media' is more nuanced in its coverage than 'the press', we ask whether the interests of vulnerable children would be better served by a more contextualised media approach to these issues.