How Do You Separate Lewding A Character From A Human Being?

If this seems confusing, I’ll try to make it clearer, but I restate the central question at the bottom. This isn’t so much me having an answer, so much as me asking a question to anyone who is willing to answer it.

This has been on my mind for a while, and I couldn’t find anything about it so I decided to ask here. So, first thing, I’d say creating a character obviously based on a real person and using their likeness without their consent (especially in a violent or sexual situation)… It’s completely understandable for said person to take such matters to court. But I was wondering on when does lewding a character become lewding a person in fiction. Honestly, this started out about lolis then kind of spiraled into all of fiction…

How this question came up, I was talking to someone who said supporting loli content was immoral because the drawing may be based on a real child and it would be immoral to support such content (which I understand)… But that was pretty iffy, as virtually any character in fiction, loli or otherwise, may be subconsciously based on someone the creator knows (for example, a loli could be based on an adult woman or even a male). Some time later, someone brought up the immorality of making Rule 34 art of people’s avatars… Not the people themselves, but the avatars (for example, say I had a stylized furry as my avatar and other people made made Rule 34 of that, not my physical appearance, but my avatar) themselves being turned into fetish fuel. Even broader, there has been discussion on mo-cap and if it’s immoral to use CGI models that were used with mo-cap in Rule 34 situations… For a fairly recent example, take the latest Capcom games that have been using mo-cap and people have been producing NSFW content with these character models… This is where things get confusing.

Are the people being lewded or the characters? If so, where is the line drawn between character and actor/inspiration? And when does it not become ok to do so?

For a popular example, take Black Widow from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. There is Rule 34 of her up, but… Would it count as Black Widow or is it Scarlett Johansson being lewded? Or is Black Widow being lewded because she’s being played by Scarlett Johansson? Of note, IIRC, there is a Scarlett Johansson tag on Rule 34 sites, so… Is it immoral for those tags to exist, since at least some people are specifically looking for drawn images of a real human being who, to my knowledge, did not consent to such content being drawn.

Earlier, someone mentioned to me how Wednesday Addams of the Addams family is subject to Rule 34… Now, this is a little hard to figure out, are they doing it because of the actress, the character of Wednesday Addams or the cartoon depiction of the character? If so, when and how does one determine when and if it becomes wrong?

Back to loli content possibly being based on a real child (not definitively proven or anything, just the idea that it might be, and that being reason enough to not support such content)… It got me wondering, what about fictional characters who definitely were based on real human beings:

  • Dorothy Gale from the Wizard of Oz… Thing is, she’s canonically a minor in the original version of the story, and I believe most versions of the story. The thing is, she is based on the author’s infant niece, Dorothy Gage. Is lewding the character Dorothy Gale immoral? For that matter, the character is canonically 10, while the first actress to portray her was 16 (with the character she’s portraying being 12)… We even have Robot Chicken, as an example, portraying her as sexually desirable. At what point, if any, does lewding Dorothy become immoral?

  • Alice from Alice in Wonderland… The first iteration of the character is canonically 7 years old, but she’s based on a real person who was an actual minor at the time the book was released (around 13 years of age) and so… This leads me to question. Is any adaptation of the character (that, originally, was based on a minor) immoral? Or is it different because the character is the one being sexualized and most people are unaware of the original’s age?

  • The creator of Sailor Moon admitted two of the characters are avatars of herself… Does that mean anyone who draws hentai or Rule 34 of Usagi are infringing upon the creator’s rights? Are they lewding the creator or the character? If so, where does the line begin and end?

  • Yoshikage Kira is, for all intents and purposes, David Bowie. Is using Kira in Rule 34 or hentai immoral since he’s clearly based on an identifiable human being?

  • Shinji Ikari from Evangelion is a representation of the creator… He’s also been portrayed in various situations by the fandom. Would lewding this character count as lewding the creator of Evangelion?

  • Dipper and Mabel Pines from Gravity Falls were clearly childhood representations of the show’s creator and his own twin, so would someone drawing NSFW artwork of Dipper and Mabel be immoral for doing so, as they’re using fictional versions of real people?

Then there are characters that are canonically the same person, but inspired by/modeled after different people…

  • Jill Valentine from Resident Evil is the perfect example… So, Jill Valentine’s earlier designs in the games were based on Canandian actress/model Julia Voth, her live action movie version was portrayed by Sienna Guillory and the motion-capture version of the character from Resident Evil 3 REmake was portrayed by Sasha Zotova… Would creating lewd artwork of the character count as making lewd artwork of the people she’s supposed to visually resemble or not? If so, where does the line begin and end?

  • Sadako from The Ring is also a popular character for this treatment… In the Japansese version, looking around, she was canonically 19 years old, but her actresses were all older. In the American version, however, her character of Samara is 10 and her first actress was around 12 at the time of the film was released , though the same incarnation of the character in that timeline was portrayed by (short) adult actresses after the first film. So would Rule 34 of Sakado/Samura be immoral due to one actress being a minor at the time of the movies being produced, even if later actresses filling that role were actual adults? And which version of the actress would the NSFW writers/artists be borderline using the likeness of?

  • Superheroes as a whole have been portrayed by various actors over the years, and the actors are traditionally portrayed by attractive individuals… Would making lewd artwork and fiction of such characters count as lewding the character or the attractive person that the creator and audiences may be attracted to?

For that matter, historical figures are also lewded in fiction, such as Abraham Lincoln or living political figures like China’s President Xi being portrayed as Winnie the Pooh on certain sites.

To my knowledge, not a single person on this list has agreed to having characters inspired by/modeled after them be turned into sexual fantasies for people on the internet… Yet countless people still do it through virtual or literary portrayals.

Once again, the overarching question is: Are the people being lewded or the characters? And when does it not become ok to do so? If so, where is the line drawn between character and actor/inspiration?

Not being a lawyer, I have to guess. I would say, in most situations, the character is the subject of the lewdness. [I am using lewded in the Urban Dictionary form as being portrayed as nude]. In the case of Alice and Dorothy, most people aren’t aware of the underlying person. And most authors use people they know to base characters on. I am sure Sam Clemons used boys he knew for Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Most authors make sure that the character is not too similar to the real person, unless they are making a point. Leon Uris based a character in Exodus on a real Nazi doctor and changed him so minimally the he was sued for libel by the doctor. Now if someone portrays Black Widow recognizably as Scarlett Johansson, then it would be possible to lewd both of them. But, since it has become popular to deep fake nudes of famous, public figures, unless there is actual malice involved, a libel suit won’t go far. Lewding a cartoon is protected in the US, unless it is visually indistinguishable from a real child or a copywrite violation. Using a real child with a deep fake, however, is problematic. While nudity of a child, per se, is not obscene, the possibilities of legal actions increase. The various laws on CP and the possibility of a libel case are in play.

As to the moral implications, well morality is in the eye of the beholder. The law can’t really enforce morality equitably. Ask @Chie if you want more on that subject.

1 Like

This is true, morality is pretty subjective… I suppose in a roundabout away, this could be read as trying to gauge the morality of fiction and thoughts… A lot of stuff about art and when art becomes a threat to others/infringes on the rights of others keeps popping up in my head.

That said, I am curious on where the line between real person begins and end in fiction for some, but there might not be a line for certain people.

I think Robin Thicke has the answer to that question. :laughing:

Well, the only times art becomes a threat is libel, defamation or incitement to riot.

Sticks and stones may break my bones… :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:

Most Fate Servants are based off of historical figures. In the original Crucible story, based on historical events, Abigail Williams is 12, and she manifests physically as such in Fate/grand order. Doesn’t stop me, though.


I don’t use reference photos for my drawings for this reason… I wouldn’t be very happy if I found out some pedo had been using my kid as drawing references. I use a doll instead to work out the poses. No real pictures of kids involved, no person, only object which doesn’t care if it gets lewded. (And whatever features I add to him with my imagination).

1 Like

Yeah this is like other issues, we should just be respectfull of other people, if we can.

1 Like