“That’s not who Lewellen is,” she said, sitting in her agent’s office in Universal City, braces on her teeth and a small crucifix over her sweater. “Because that has happened to her, that doesn’t define her. Because of this thing that has happened — that she did not ask for — she is labeled that, and it’s her story to overcome that and to be a whole person again.”
“There are so many children that this happens to, every second,” she added. “That’s the sad part. If anyone’s talking about anything, that’s what they should be talking about.”...
She added: “Lewellen is still very innocent, she’s still a child, but she’s also a little bit wise beyond her years because of the things she’s seen and been through. So I think that I should be able to do what I feel is at the right time for me.”
Speaking of which... Dakota Fanning is 13 years old. The law is there to protect her, not to support her free choice. I think it's exploitative even to use her to voice these arguments.
The linked NYT article refers to the Minor Consideration website run by Paul Peterson. He has this essay there:
It now appears Dakota Fanning was wearing a flesh-tone body suit (or a two piece suit) when she acted out the rape scene in "Hound Dog." Defenders of the production company were silent for two weeks when the controversy erupted, and now offer up this "cover up," days later, as proof that they were, in fact, concerned about the propriety of wardrobe worn in this rape scene using the talents of a twelve year-old child. These same voices are silent about what Dakota was wearing when she filmed the mutual masturbation scene. I keep pointing out to these people that it wasn't what Dakota was wearing, but what she was doing!...ADDED: Here's a nice "Talk of the Nation" segment about child actors. I ran across it as I was looking for some information about how they get child actors to cry. I wanted to know how, for example, Chaplin got Jackie Coogan to cry in "The Kid"? Actually, in the clip they talk about how Vincente Minelli got Margaret O’Brien to cry in "Meet Me in St. Louis." (He told her that her dog had died.)
I am trying to tell you that for a gifted child actor asked to portray a difficult emotionally loaded scene that over time there is NO difference between reality and pretend. In order to convince an audience to suspend disbelief you must, internally, believe utterly in the character and event you are portraying. That's the gift…and the curse.
MORE: There's a lot of heated argument in the comments, so let me say that I think it's important not to assume we know exactly what Dakota Fanning was made to do in the film. Here's the director's defense of herself in Premiere Magazine:
"I think to some extent what they're accusing me of is putting Dakota through some ordeal or a simulation of rape, but that's not the case," says [Deborah] Kampmeier. "The scene was never run through from start to finish; it was shot in increments, over and over, never in a single take. The construction creates the impression of the violence, but doesn't represent the feeling on the set or something that might have traumatized Dakota, especially since there had been so much rehearsal.It's quite a confusing story. Kampmeier complains that people are lying about her movie, but she also says that as she was seeking funding "No one wanted to touch the material" and that "potential investors... would... ask to remove the rape scene." She says she's upset about the misinformation, but refuses to provide the truth. The fact that everything said was a lie is the reason she gives for deciding to say nothing at all. There's something quite odd about that. And I don't understand the way she's acting so wounded. Her critics are people who care about the welfare of children. Why give them the cold shoulder? I assume the movie is intended to show concern about victimized children, so why act as if you actually don't care?
Despite her problems financing the movie, Kampmeier was surprised by the vehemence of the reaction to its plot details. "I was naive — I had no idea this would come," she says. "Our decision was to not respond to any of it 'cause everything that's been written or said about us is false. But at a certain point it was so upsetting to read lie after lie and be powerless to change the public perception. I finally had to stop focusing on that and get back to the film."