PROGRAMMING: THE DARK SIDE OF CHILDREN’S ENTERTAINMENT
Written by MemoryHold and edited by Adam Riva, PROGRAMMING: THE DARK SIDE OF CHILDREN’S ENTERTAINMENT exposes the grooming and abuse stemming from the highest levels of children’s entertainment. This film asks the question, are we watching children’s programming or are we programming children?
TRANSCRIPT & SOURCES
According to an article published by the Sun in June of 2020,
“SIXTEEN people have been arrested in an online child abuse sting which saw a nurse and two Disney employees taken into custody by Florida detectives.”
“The “Operation Guardians of Innocence V” tracked the group, who had been distributing child sex abuse involving infants as young as six months.”
There are many incidents of Disney-related child porn arrests. For example, at least 35 Disney workers have been arrested for related charges between 2006 and 2014.
“The suspects included a ticket seller, a concierge and a trainee tour guide at the Florida resort – and even a night shift manager accused of watching child porn at work while he wrote a church sermon.”
Disney’s response to these arrests seemed to be a reasonable argument:
“Disney has insisted the theme park is so large, with around 70,000 employees, that those arrested represent only 0.01 per cent of people it has employed since 2006.”
Disney is correct that this problem is a statistical minority insofar as the Magic Kingdom amusement park, but what about the air-conditioned office spaces of those that have creative influence over Disney content, and therein children’s minds through its entertainment?
On December 8th, 2017, The Wrap reported on the arrest of Disney music executive Jon Heely.
“Disney has suspended Jon Heely, its director of music publishing, after he was charged with three counts of felony child sex abuse involving two underaged girls a decade ago. Variety, which first reported the charges, said Heely, 58, is accused of abusing one of the girls when she was 15, and the other from the ages of 11 to 15.”
This problem reaches much higher than Jon Heely. Michael Laney, the former Vice President of Disney, has been sentenced to 6 years in prison for sexually abusing children:
“During its investigation, the PPB discovered other allegations of sexual abuse against Laney, with one person alleging he sexually abused her when she was a minor in 2007.”
It is safe to say that in the places children tend to congregate, so too will predators. Most adults are aware of this, and as a result most parents stay on guard. However, there are other, more elusive threats to children that are more present, but discussed less often; one of them being the grooming that takes place in children’s entertainment by the people that create it.
Walt Disney Company is among the largest companies in the world based on its market cap, and owns almost 50% of all media, which includes ownership over many different Television channels like National Geographic and Fox. Another channel owned by Disney is ABC, which may explain why ABC told its reporters to avoid using the word “pedophile” when reporting on a story surrounding a pedophile named James Griffin who had groomed and drugged multiple children.
The child abuse problem is not limited to the lower levels of the Disney empire, nor is it limited to Disney itself. If we examine Nickelodeon, for example, we will observe similar incidents of child abuse and child porn related crimes.
Brian Peck starred in two X-Men movies as well as all three Living Dead movies. In 2004, Peck was arrested and charged with eight counts of sexual abuse after abusing a Nickelodeon child actor, the abuse including ‘anesthesia or controlled substance.’
After only 16 months in prison for his crimes against children, Peck was released and is walking around in public freely. He is still working with children, and in fact, is working with Disney.
How does a company like Disney make such a horrendous oversight in hiring a convicted child sex offender? What if this wasn’t accidental at all?
As a result of his arrest, Peck is prohibited from direct contact with children. However, he is not prohibited from being part of productions in which children are acting. One of his roles was even as a ‘Sex Ed Teacher’, the production being for the 2009 short horror movie called Queerantine set in a high school. More recently, he is credited as a dialogue coach in 22 of Charlie Sheen’s Anger Management TV series. The existence of accusations against Charlie Sheen is noteworthy, here, given that Peck and Sheen are friends with each other.
One of the most well-known cartoons that ever aired on Nickelodeon was Ren & Stimpy, created by John Kricfalusi. It was well-known for a very long time that Kricfalusi was difficult to work with, and would consciously push the boundaries of what was acceptable for his kid-focused cartoons. However, there was something much darker that was well known about Kricfalusi during his time animating Ren & Stimpy.
“Robyn Byrd and Katie Rice were teenage Ren & Stimpy fans who wanted to make cartoons. They say they were preyed upon by the creator of the show, John Kricfalusi, who admitted to having had a 16-year-old girlfriend when approached by BuzzFeed News.”
“Although sexual abuse allegations against Kricfalusi have never been made public before, his relationship with Byrd has been an open secret within animation — so open that “a girl he had been dating since she was fifteen years old” was referenced briefly in a book about the history of Ren & Stimpy.”
This information, though known among animators at Nickelodeon for a long time, became public in 2018 when Buzzfeed published a piece about Kricfalusi’s abuse of underaged girls after two former employees of his came forward. Kricfalusi even admitted to Buzzfeed that, indeed, he was dating a 16-year-old girl. Kricfalusi would also show other employees at his company pictures of him and another underaged victim, Robyn Byrd, engaging in sex acts. Eventually, in 2007, child pornography was discovered on his computer.
Kricfalusi represents a disturbing pattern of behavior at children’s entertainment companies. His crimes were known by many, yet no one intervened. When he was finally exposed, no true charges were ever brought against him, and no real justice was served. Kricfalusi did end up getting fired from Nickelodeon, but it was for apparently missing deadlines, and not for child sexual abuse.
Dan Schneider is a producer for Nickelodeon responsible for some of the network’s most famous and successful shows such as “All That”, “The Amanda Show”, “iCarly”, “Drake and Josh”, and many others. However, for many years now, speculation and allegations about Dan Schneider’s questionable behavior around kids have plagued him.
Other, more detailed write-ups on Schneider’s misgivings are also available on the Internet. Famous “Hollywood Insider” Enty the Lawyer at the website Crazy Days and Nights wrote about these developments:
Despite Schneider’s influence and super-stardom within the world of children’s entertainment, Nickelodeon decided to cut ties with the powerhouse producer in 2018. Deadline reports:
“Following many conversations together about next directions and future opportunities, Nickelodeon and our long-time creative partner Dan Schneider/Schneider’s Bakery have agreed to not extend the current deal,” Nickelodeon and Schneider said in a joint statement to Deadline. “Since several Schneider’s Bakery projects are wrapping up, both sides agreed that this is a natural time for Nickelodeon and Schneider’s Bakery to pursue other opportunities and projects.”
Nickelodeon cutting ties with Dan Schneider was a fairly symbolic moment for both the 90s kids that grew up watching tons of his shows.
“Schneider has been Nick’s top creator/showrunner of live-action comedy hits for the past two decades.He is credited in part with discovering such young actresses as Ariana Grande, Amanda Bynes, Jami Lynn Spears and Victoria Justice who were cast as leads of his series.”
Ariana Grande has found extreme levels of success and fame through her music, and the significance of her in the eyes of millions of young kids around the world cannot be understated. Dan Schneider discovered her and played an important role in getting her to the level of fame she has today. Schneider clearly has a fair amount of influence over culture through the media he produces.
Deadline shared details about Nickelodeon’s decision to part ways with Schneider.
“Among other things, I hear there had been multiple complaints of abusive behavior against Schneider filed by members of his staff.”
“The report says Schneider worked “under a cloud of suspicion” because of relationships with young stars on his shows, and notes he shared photos of actresses’ toes on social media.”
Jeffrey Epstein had a private plane named the Lolita Express. The name Geraldine Laybourne appeared in the Express’ flight log. Geraldine Laybourne is almost single-handedly responsible for CREATING Nickelodeon.
In 2002, Geraldine Laybourne and her husband, Kit, flew on Jeffrey Epstein’s private plane, the Lolita Express, to an exclusive “Billionaires’ Dinner Party.” Since the Laybournes traveled with Epstein prior to his crimes becoming public knowledge in 2007, some may argue that they simply did not know that Epstein was running a child trafficking operation. Regardless, it remains disturbing that a children’s entertainment tycoon befriended a child trafficker.
Geraldine Laybourne is not only known for her paramount role in creating Nickelodeon. Geraldine is the former head of Nickelodeon and now potentate of the new women’s cable and Internet channel, Oxygen. Her husband, Kit Laybourne, is the former head of Colossal Pictures animation studio who is now developing programming for Oxygen.
Aside from her massive prior accomplishments within Nickelodeon and children’s entertainment in general, she also sits on several boards and advisory committees related to television programming.
“National Cable Television Association, The National Council for Families and Television, New York Women in Film & Television (Advisory Board), Cable Positive (Honorary Chair). In 1997 she was elected to the Board of Trustees of Vassar College.”
It could be that Geraldine Laybourne’s aspirations extend beyond television programming. From one of John Podesta’s emails that Wikileaks released in 2016, we can see that Laybourne was invited to a video conference with Hillary Clinton’s campaign team.
Geraldine and Kit Laybourne are also on the board of Kindercare, an early childhood development and learning center that has multiple locations in the US.
“B. Gerry Laybourne is the reason Nickelodeon gave Dan Schneider a show. When his show tested poorly, Laybourne picked it up anyway.” https://archive.fo/bP0Ss
Perhaps the most striking revelation about Geraldine Laybourne is that she was primarily responsible for getting Dan Schneider a TV show. In an interview in 2014, Schneider reflected on how after he pitched his idea for the TV show “All That!” to Nickelodeon, he was met with silence for 6 months and was unsure about the future of the production due to the pilot having been met with lukewarm ratings.
It was within that 6-month timeframe when Geraldine Laybourne watched the show, loved it, and decided to greenlight it. Schneider goes on to state:
“Then, if I recall correctly, I heard that the president of Nickelodeon (at the time), a woman named Geraldine Laybourne, watched the All That pilot and loved it. She said something like, “This show is great. Why haven’t we picked this up yet? Let’s make it.” Next thing I knew, we were back in Orlando, where we’d shot the pilot, and we were making a bunch of episodes of All That. It was a blast. I loved every minute of it.”
Is it any mystery why so many former child stars develop a plethora of issues, ranging from drug and alcohol abuse to severe mental health problems? Many former child stars have also revealed that they had been sexually abused while acting for popular television shows and movies.
The goliaths of children’s entertainment like Nickelodeon, Disney, and Cartoon Network are not immune from pedophiles joining their ranks, and to this day remain a danger to child stars in television and film. With creative control over what children are watching, pedophiles embedded in these roles have a unique effect on the minds of children across the world. The problem is not limited to the lower echelons of these companies. Rather, these organizations are largely compromised.
The landscape of digital media has changed in such a way that enables pedophiles to directly communicate with kids, whether it be chat rooms, text messages, exchanging photos, or live video streaming. These activities are easily concealed from parental supervision. Due to the rapidly changing technological landscape, parents sometimes have a hard time anticipating the risks and dangers it may pose to their children. We are now in an age where kids can be sexually abused while they are in the same room as their parents, without them ever knowing. It is only by assisting in exposing these crimes and spreading awareness about the current techniques predators are using that we can prevent children from being victimized. Parents must exercise eternal vigilance to protect their children from being programmed by programming.