Sexual exploitation at Nickelodeon

Bailey Kirkeby, Co-Editor-in-Chief

On Nov. 2, 2019, Netflix added 13 Nickelodeon titles to its catalog.  The TV show “Victorious,” released in 2010, has arguably garnered the most attention from high school students, with many teenagers binge-watching the series and proclaiming their love for the “iconic” show they watched as young children.

Although I loved the show as a child, the nostalgia was not enough to shield me from my unfortunate knowledge of the show’s creator and many of the problematic decisions associated with his various Nickelodeon programs.

“Victorious” was created and produced by Dan Schneider, a powerful Nickelodeon showrunner who produced other popular Nickelodeon shows, including “iCarly,” “Drake & Josh” and “Zoey 101.”

In 2018, after working with Nickelodeon for 24 years, Nickelodeon and Schneider released a joint statement announcing Schneider’s departure from the company.

“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,” the joint statement said.  “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.”

However, the timing of Schneider’s departure was rather suspect; Schneider was arguably Nickelodeon’s top creator — as many of the shows he produced prospered — and the network was experiencing a sharp decline in viewership in 2018, according to “The New York Times.”  With a decline in viewership, Nickelodeon would likely want to keep their most successful producer in an effort to halt this decline.

The “Washington Post” reports that, in addition to his alleged “well-documented temper issues for years,” Schneider has also been ridiculed for his apparent fixation with young female stars’ feet.  Many social media users have also noted Schneider’s sexualization of female stars in his shows.

For example, in a Youtube compilation video titled “Ariana Grande being sexualized on ‘Victorious’ for 2 minutes straight,” Grande’s character, Cat, is shown attempting to fit her toe in her mouth, gagging after inserting her finger in her mouth and making seemingly provocative sounds and facial expressions as she attempts to “squeeze the juice” out of a potato.

In another instance, another Nickelodeon show produced by Schneider, “Sam & Cat,” posted a tweet on its official Twitter account asking fans to tweet photos of their feet.

“SAM & CAT TOMORROW!” the tweet said.  “Write on the bottom of ur foot, take a pic and use #SAMandCATSaturday we’ll [retweet] and follow until our fingers get sore!”

While opponents may argue that these suggestive actions are not entirely Schneider’s decision, the sheer volume of questionable executive choices in various shows Schneider produced is enough to raise concern.

I tend to separate the art from the artist when consuming media, such as music and TV shows.  However, the sexual innuendos and questionable actions that the actors of “Victorious” — most of whom were minors when the show premiered — were required to make by the show’s producers are too prevalent for me to ignore.