Letter to Steve Carell re ‘Crazy Stupid Love’s’ Teen Nude Photos

Posted on August 10, 2011 at 12:00 pm

I was very pleased to hear that my friend Rev. Debra Haffner has written to producer/star Steve Carell about the scene where a 17-year-old girl gives a 13-year-old boy nude photos in “Crazy, Stupid, Love.”   This offensive scene, portraying the gift as generous and compassionate, is one reason I gave “Crazy, Stupid, Love” a D.  Rev. Haffner is one of the leading experts in the country on teen sexuality.  She acknowledges that these are fictional characters but points out that teenagers get ideas about how to behave from what they see on screen. If she gets a response, I will post it.


Dear Mr. Carell:

I am writing to you as a certified sexuality educator and an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister who is concerned that your new movie, “Crazy, Stupid, Love” models behaviors for teen and tween audiences that puts them at risk for legal action.  I am the author of several books for parents on talking with their children and teens about sexuality, and I have worked with adolescents on responsible sexual behavior for many years. 

There are several sexual messages in the movie that I disagree with, but I am most concerned about 17 year old Jessica giving 13 year old Robbie nude photos of herself that she took.  It is illegal for anyone to create sexually explicit images of a minor, to possess such images, or to distribute them.  Although it may seem nonsensical, several states have passed additional laws that make it illegal for teens to take and distribute such pictures of themselves to other teens.  Indeed, because of their age differences, depending on the age of majority in the state, Jessica might also be charged and convicted as a sexual offender for exposing a minor to child pornography.  In some states, she could face life in prison or have to register as a sex offender for life.  Further, the gender of the characters reinforces a stereotype that teen boys cannot be victims of child sexual abuse, when in reality, a boy is most likely sexually victimized by a teenage girl. 

These are fictional characters – but their actions may well be repeated by young people in your audiences.  I know that your movie is out in general release, and I don’t know what can be done by Carousal Productions at this point to get out the message, “don’t’ try this at home”.  But, I do know that PG-13 movies shouldn’t be modeling criminal behaviors as harmless or worse, acts of generosity. 

I would welcome hearing a response from you.  Please let me know if I can provide you with additional information.




Rev. Dr. Debra Haffner

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Teenagers Understanding Media and Pop Culture

13 Replies to “Letter to Steve Carell re ‘Crazy Stupid Love’s’ Teen Nude Photos”

  1. Thank you for this! I was shocked that in all the comments I heard about this movie before going to see it, no one mentioned the outrageously inappropriate, but benignly depicted, behaviors in the film. The list is a long one, but thanks to Rev. Haffner (and Ms. Minow) for pointing out the most egregious.

    1. Thanks very much, cintagliata! I am surprised so few people have raised objections to these elements of the film.

  2. if you dont like it dont watch it and stop trying to intrude on our personal freedom rights, if you censor one thing it only leads to more restrictions which is one of the most backward persuasions against the development of our free society, don’t make others a victim of the dogma which you presently are………….

    1. Blow, aren’t you the one trying to censor others here? Whatever happened to “I do not agree with what you say, but I would defend to the death your right to say it?” Why shouldn’t people who object to this have the right to speak out?

  3. I don’t know how I ended up here but, this is probably the most ignorant thing I’ve seen. You’re writing to an ACTOR about the scene of a script that you disagree with? He obviously didn’t write the scene, so why don’t you write to the director? There isn’t even nudity in the film, you act as if it’s actual child pornography. Which it isn’t. I find people like you very inane. Teenagers aren’t as stupid as you portray them to be nowadays, just because they watch a film that depicts something like this does not mean they will instantly go act it out after. There are worse things happening than movies depicting “child pornography”. Go and write to a pedophile who has raped and murdered 20 children and explain to them their vulgar behaviors and law violations. I think that’s more productive than worrying about a silly movie scene that is only shown for a few seconds.

    1. Shaniqua, because you are new to this site let me advise you of the rules of posting here. I encourage all kinds of lively debate, but do not permit insults, and have edited your comment accordingly. You might want to brush up on the rules of persuasive argument as well, beginning with a more careful and accurate response to whatever it is you are opposing. It is entirely legitimate to question an actor for the part he chooses to play. If you had paid a bit more attention you would have noticed he also produced the film, and thus hired the writer and director, so it is more than fair to hold him responsible for the material in the movie. No one is arguing that teenagers automatically follow what they see in a movie or that there are not worse atrocities. But clearly, if you think the language and tone of your comment is permissible, you have learned some unfortunate lessons from the media you have absorbed. Just a suggestion, but you can represent your side much more persuasively in the future if you can demonstrate that you have not been adversely affected by the media you are defending.

  4. All this is, is just bull. First off as already stated, it wasn’t the actor who wrote the scene. If you have a problem with it then don’t watch it. It is not your duty to make every movie sound it’s worst. The movie together had a very funny story and all together was a good movie. One scene cannot be picked out for the reason why one should not go and see the movie

    1. Not bull at all, Kevin. Carell produced the film and therefore had control over the script and was the appropriate person to receive the letter. And why shouldn’t one scene, if bad enough, be the reason not to see a movie?

  5. Peole it’s a movie damn it enjoy it have a sense of humor and get a life and I bet Steve carell doesn’t even give a damn that u wrote him that

  6. I completely agree with the original poster. I was disturbed by the idea of a 13 year old boy being supplied with pornography, and having the script tell us that it is a good thing! Amazing.

    Let’s continue to ask questions about the gender roles. If it wee a 13 year old girl and a 17 year old boy I’ve no doubt that the studio would never have allowed the scene to go out!

    Of course this isn’t real and these are fictional characters. But this piece clearly puts forward the idea that this action is just fine, and it’s that that I find so objectionable.

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