Recently, there's been some public controversy on an upcoming film called Hounddog in which a twelve-year-old is depicted as being raped. In the making of the film, presumably no sexual contact is made - what appears to be at stake are two issues:
I'm inclined to dismiss the latter argument out of hand, and focus on the first - I think that a recent move to use GL models to depict underage characters in pr0n and written fiction should both be acceptable. Should we guard the identity children have and prevent them from crossing boundaries until they're older? There are several such boundaries, such as getting things pierced, tattoos, braces, acting in general, becoming sexually active, etc. All these are also set in the general background of choices parents and society make in the upbringing of children - families move, sufficiently bad parents get visits from social workers and sometimes have their children put into foster care, parents make choices between public and private schools, whether to hire tutors to help them learn, piano lessons, etc. The parent-child dynamic and child-person_they_become dynamic are both complex - drawing lines between acting at all, depictions like this of sexual content, porn, etc, is a difficult task. The last film I saw that had sexual content involving minors also had a 12-year old girl - the excellent Afghani film Osama ended with the (offscreen) rape of the protagonist by the old man she was forced to marry. This is another one of those issues where I don't really have an answer.
- The ability of the actress to properly decide to be depicted as being in a sexual situation
- The extent to which the scene is unacceptably lewd by nature (it would probably be a misuse of terms to consider it to be pornographic)
It's interesting to compare this with the book Naked Lunch, where youth in all kinds of sexual acts including snuff and rape are celebrated. For people who give weight to the second argument above (which I dismissed), it might be worth thinking about if the standard of acceptability for books and films should be different.