Ethics Quiz: The Hollywood Icon’s Porn Star Daughter [CORRECTED]

Well, now that he’s ticking off the ‘direct a move musical’ bucket list item, I guess Steven Spielberg can move on to  ‘direct a porn film starring your daughter.”

In an exclusive interview with The Sun, Mikaela Spielberg, Steven Spielberg’s and actress spouse Kate Capshaw’s adopted  daughter, revealed that she is producing solo porn videos. The 23-year-old also revealed that she would love to become a stripper, as she moves forward aggressively to fulfill her ambition of being an  adult entertainer.

Explaining to the paper that she ” just got tired of working day to day in a way that wasn’t satisfying my soul….I feel like doing this kind of work.”  Mikaela swears that her  parents were not upset when she informed them of her new career path.  Mikaela also said she’d like to make fetish videos, though she won’t have  sex with anyone on camera, because she respects her supportive 47 year-old fiancé Chuck Pankow too much to do THAT.

Yikes.

Your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz of the Day, and I’m serious about this, is:

Do children have an ethical obligation not to embarrass and humiliate their parents?

Does anyone believe, except perhaps Mikaela herself, that the Spielbergs are okey-dokey with their daughter becoming a porn star, and announcing it to the world? She has 1,900 followers on Instagram and posted a topless photo three days ago as part of her “coming out” as a porn star. If they are, I would say that they share responsibility for this development, but giving them the benefit of the doubt, I’m reasonably certain that after the celebrities’ shocking FaceTime chat with their daughter (Call me old fashioned, but I put “Mom, Dad, I’ve decided to be a porn star” in the elite category of announcements like “I’m joining ISIS” and “I’m marrying a goat” that require an in-person sit-down with one’s folks), the Spielbergs had a long “where did we go wrong?” session.

I have some experience with this, having as our only son a young man who was adopted as a Russian orphan and who has made some poor decisions in his life. To his credit, when we broached the topic of whether we had failed him in our parenting—my wife was especially self-flagellating on this issue—he looked us both in the eye and said,and this is very close to an exact quote because it made an impression, “Absolutely not. You have always encouraged me to be my own person and not let other people determine the direction of my life, to challenge authority, and to take risks and not be afraid to make mistakes. That’s how I am, and I’m grateful for it. I just screwed up, that’s all. My responsibility, not yours.”

Whew. Then again, he didn’t tell us he had decided to call himself Buck Naked and embark on a porn career.

Surely, surely, Mikaela has other good options. In fact, she has almost every option: she has a trust fund, she is richer than Mookie Betts will ever be, and not only is the world her oyster, its her Oysters Rockefeller. Should it matter to her that her current whim is certain to make miserable the two people who rescued her from a life of likely squalor and gave her a life most children only dream of?  In the alternative, is caring about the honor and reputation of one’s family so, so 19th Century?

NOTICE Of CORRECTION: In the original post, I wrote that Mikaela had been born in Russia. I have no idea where that came from now, since it was evidently false. Thanks to reader Alizia for pointing out the error.

38 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: The Hollywood Icon’s Porn Star Daughter [CORRECTED]

  1. She has 1900 followers on Instagram. That is probably the core of it. She wants to be the center of attention, tried, and failed. Soft-spoken Baptist ministers talking about concealed-carry choices get more followers than that. However, she is female, so she has an easy way to get attention…porn. Sure, she could get het father to get movie roles for her, but then he would be doing it for her. She can show them that she can do it on her own (by capitalizing on his name). This seems similar to the Prince Harry and Megan Markle thing.

    The 47 year old fiancee does point to daddy issues, as slickwilly expertly observed. I hope that 47-year old is crassly in this for the money or publicity, otherwise he is in for a world of hurt before this is over.

    • Yup.
      When one’s self-worth is purely material, and you live in a time and place when everyone has ample material things, fame is everything. And any kind of fame is better than no fame. Anonymity is death. I can’t make myself feel anything but sadness and compassion for her.
      Being raised by rich Hollywood weirdos (and by all indications Spielberg is a loyal member of the tribe, with everything that entails and implies) can be worse than growing up in an orphanage. Shoot, I’d wager most orphanages (American ones anyway) provide structure and some supportive and present adult role models.

  2. Apparently Mikaela has made statements to the affect that she was sexually abused by “predators” (plural. Yikes!).

    In Hollywood, I believe there are predators behind every bush.

    When was she abused? She’s barely into adulthood! Did she get any therapy? Is Hollywood such a corrupting influence that the Spielbergs think, “Okay, controlling her body by being a sex worker is a valid way to overcome abuse!”?

    Frankly, I don’t think anyone in Hollywood has the ability to be embarrassed anymore.

    As to the poll…well, one person’s embarrassing child is another person’s pride and joy. The Jewish mother whose son followed his heart to become a baker instead of a doctor might be embarrassed, but her son isn’t unethical for choosing his career despite her embarrassment.

    If the Spielbergs don’t feel embarrassed by their daughter’s decision, I don’t know that we can call her decision unethical. Stupid, yes. We can certainly be embarrassed for them if they don’t have the sense to be so themselves.

  3. The age difference between her and her fiancé provides a clue of what might have gone on in her not so bright head to make this decision. Hopefully she will wise up and realize that this career move will be embarrassing and hurtful to her parents. But perhaps not.

  4. I have a CD Set named “the Ugly Truth”, produced through Catholic Answers, in which Catholic Apologist Matt Fradd talked with an ex-porn-star and an ex-porn-director about the pornography industry. (Matt Fradd’s main focus on is on sexual morality, having struggled with a pornography addiction himself.) One of the interesting details that came out of the conversation with the director is how the perception of the industry has changed, and how that impacts the people going into it. It used to be that you could take to the bank that a porn star was sexually abused as a child. But the recent shift in the last decade or so has manifested in a number of young women who have not encountered any abuse, and who see pornography as a more mainstream occupation. Not knowing the long term consequences of being starred in pornographic videos, they treat the porn industry like waiting tables — a way to earn money during college.

    Of course, even with the initial positive viewpoint, many of them find just how devastating it is for their future happiness once their role as porn stars start creating problems in employment and relationships. The director, Donny Pauling, detailed how he would receive letters — even long after he left the industry and reverted to his Christian roots — from women who were astonished to find that, years later, their videos and pictures were still circulating the internet. It would become an issue in the workforce — one woman complained how her career in the police academy was ruined when some fellow law enforcement students found her pictures and started harassing her with them. Another lost her fiance when he learned she had been in the industry.

    The impact on the Spielbergs is going to be massive, no doubt, and the effects will linger. Should Mikaela decide to reverse course in the future, she is going to find it almost impossible to disentangle herself from her time producing pornography. And her parents, being such public figures, will probably be inundated both from people who are appalled at this development, but also from people who, lusting after Mikaela, will want more exposure and maybe even encounters. Will this be an embarrassment? Undoubtedly. But I bet embarrassment is the least of the problems that they will encounter.

    In my opinion, this engagement with pornography sounds like someone who is desperate for attention and finds she gets it when she provides others with naked photos and videos of herself. Interested in fetishes? Mostly like because going further and further into a variety of sexual behaviors will increase the number of people who give her attention, and keep them paying attention. A 47-year-old fiance also affirms my suspicions. Such an age disparity might be innocent, but most often older men know they stand a much better chance of manipulating young women into whatever they want. He might even be encouraging her into her career as a porn star.

    Is respecting the honor and reputation of one’s family outdated? I think many would like it to be so, and it certainly feels our culture is headed that way. When our culture has embraced the cult of the individual, concern about the reputation of one’s family becomes stifling. It interferes with the individual achieving what he or she wants. It also becomes inexplicable why a child’s choice of lifestyle should reflect negatively on the parents. Shouldn’t everyone embrace, even applaud, that choice, for no greater reason than it was that child’s choice? Heck, aren’t parents just superfluous obstacles to a child’s happiness?

  5. Do children have an ethical obligation not to embarrass and humiliate their parents? No, kids are not ethically required to not embarrass and humiliate their parents. It’s what kids do. It’s what you sign on for when you have kids.

    Any number of saying spring to mind.

    “Kids are like a box of chocolates. You never know….” Adoption makes this even more apt.

    “You reap what you sow.” Spielberg and his wife are at the very top of the Hollywood pile of power and money. His personal work is not particularly corrosive, but he’s floated along on top of an extremely corrosive, anything goes, culture and industry. I think a dollop of schadenfreude being on the menu is not out of line.

    “A riddle wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” How ironic she was adopted from the ashes of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and she sounds like a Bernie Sanders voter: “[I] just got tired of working day to day in a way that wasn’t satisfying my soul….I feel like doing this kind of work.” She’s probably all in on a minimum guaranteed income! Actually, come to think of it, she just sounds like any number of clinically insane characters in any number of Dostoyevsky novels. Although looking at her, I had assumed she was mixed white and African American. She doesn’t look Russian to me. Possibly Cossack?

    “Pursue your dreams and do what you love.”

    “If it feels good, do it!”

    And of course, “Moose and squirrel must die.”

  6. I tried to argue this as an ethical conflict, but I can’t. When a couple adopts you away from a potential life of poverty, or at least in Mikaela’s case, into a family situation where she was not only presumably loved and cared for, but granted a place among the “1%”, where opportunities for her life choices are essentially boundless, a lot of ethical karma is at stake.

    In a case like this, she has a profound ethical duty to consider the damage to her family’s reputation created by her life choices. By rejecting that responsibility, she is demonstrating she places her happiness not only above that of her family, but so much so that she doesn’t care how much damage having a porn-star daughter will do to her family and their business prospects.

    This is a flagrant Golden Rule violation, and not only that, it is more than one of the Deadly Sins and patently selfish action. She should be ashamed, stop immediately and beg her family’s forgiveness for her callous, narcissistic behavior.

    • By rejecting that responsibility, she is demonstrating she places her happiness not only above that of her family, but so much so that she doesn’t care how much damage having a porn-star daughter will do to her family and their business prospects.

      Agreed, but the more I think about this, the more I start to ponder. Is the shift in the attitude toward the porn industry I mentioned above influencing minds so that a career in porn is seen as viable, or even as desirable, as a classic profession? Is it possible that, at least some circles, parents would be more proud of their daughter as a porn star than as, say, a petroleum engineer? Could it be the some parents might even encourage their children in that direction?

      • I can’t speak to that. Perhaps you’re right in the case of the most libertine of social circles. I can’t imagine Spielberg is a member of good standing in most of those, though.

        You’re essentially arguing the “cool” factor of the industry in the eyes of the elites, like the Playboy bunnies of the 1970’s through early 1990’s before the soft porn industry was subjected to the same slow death as the newspaper business as the Internet began to destroy the hard-copy publishing industry. The rise of video temporarily slowed that demise until YouTube and the home video technology gradually made the professional video porn industry less profitable.

        So these days, I can’t see much “cool” factor in professional porn.

  7. 1900 followers won’t make you a $2,500 paid Bloomberg influencer. She will need at least 50 times that number of followers just to get on the radar.

  8. Do children have an ethical obligation not to embarrass and humiliate their parents?

    They have an ethical obligation not to intend to embarrass their parents. If pursuing your dreams embarrasses you parents, then that sucks for them but it’s not unethical. I did a bit of a deep dive on this and from what I can see she genuinely wants to do adult work. There’s nothing inherently wrong with pursuing a career in adult entertainment. There are some practical downsides – specifically enduring the tut tutting and pearl clutching of sex-negative people or the attentions of fans that have a hard time drawing the distinction between fantasy and reality – but as a matter of ethics, there’s nothing wrong with producing adult entertainment for adult consumption.

    “Is caring about the honor and reputation of one’s family so, so 19th Century?”
    There’s nothing wrong with caring about your larger family’s ‘honor and reputation’ (it’s admirable even) but there’s also nothing wrong with not caring.

    Our society has firmly rejected the idea that individuals represent their blood relations. And with good reason – they simply don’t. Good apples and bad are distributed at random throughout the population and good families regularly produce monsters (dont get me wrong, bad families produce them at higher rate). So if people aren’t reliable indicators of familial quality then the idea that families can collectively have honor or reputation is hit or miss at best. As in many cases the exception proves the rule – America rejects the ‘family as indicator of quality’ model but seems to apply it to the Kennedy’s. The actions of the most visible Kennedy’s show the fallacy in this reasoning. This storied family’s most famous members range from mildly bad (JFK) to actively horrible people (Ted and pappa Jo). So if you want to care, knock yourself out, but if you don’t, no one can reasonably and ethically blame your family for your individual actions.

    • Sharp comment.

      “Our society has firmly rejected the idea that individuals represent their blood relations.” Do you really think so? I don’t think it’s firm at all. Family names and connections still go a long way. A family’s reputation and achievements still carries weight. Hunter Biden? Chelsea Clinton? All the latest generations of Kennedys? Staining the family name has consequences to others…still.

      As for the Kennedys, the name was so sanctified in Massachusetts and so protected by the news media that even Teddy couldn’t dent it.

      • Dopes think family means something when it comes to following generations. The Clintons and Bidens and Kennedys of the world, and other grifters, capitalize on that idiocy. Anyone paying attention knows who your parents are should be assumed to mean nothing about who you are. Are good traits passed down among families? Sure. Is its happening a sure things. Heck no.

        I saw an interesting quote attributed to Meghan Markle today. In dismissing the controversy over whether she and Harry could use the word “royal” in connection with their various activities, she said it didn’t matter because “Harry has royal blood in him no matter what the Queen says.” How’s THAT for wokeness? She’s an egalitarian but her husband is descended from God Almighty. You go girl.

          • Agreed. The whole nature vs. nurture thing sure is a toss up. At least in mine and Mrs. OB’s experience with her daughter from her first husband whom I adopted and helped raise literally from birth. We confidently thought nurture would rule the day when we were twenty-two and twenty-one respectively. Boy, were we naïve.

    • There’s nothing inherently wrong with pursuing a career in adult entertainment. There are some practical downsides – specifically enduring the tut tutting and pearl clutching of sex-negative people or the attentions of fans that have a hard time drawing the distinction between fantasy and reality – but as a matter of ethics, there’s nothing wrong with producing adult entertainment for adult consumption.

      Yes, there is something ‘practically wrong’.

      But what I think you are actually saying is that you have learned, or been taught, or have chosen not to see the negative consequences. But those consequences are legion. I think it could be successfully argued that in no sense has *our shared life* been enhanced, been bettered, been ennobled if you will, by breaking down the prohibition against creating and distributing pornography.

      And those who have worked in that direction and have sponsored the activism that has led to the outcome of a person who could state, in seriousness, that there is nothing inherently wrong for a young person to pursue a career in pornographic entertainment, and by extension no consequences for a culture that gives itself over to this *entertainment*, demonstrates a severe ethical malfunction.

      There is a larger question of complicity here which will likely not be brought out. It has to do with the industry that Spielberg himself is a part of and which he is connected to. It has to do with a culture-industry. And it has to do with the interests that operate in those industries that *produce* and *sell* and *distribute* this sort of material. So the larger question is one about how a people and a culture become perverse. How they go off the tracks. And how they present such options — the obvious and inevitable consequence — to their own children.

      Eventually, that is where the consequence shows up.

    • It doesn’t matter if individuals don’t represent their blood relations. Families are the most intimate of social groups, and if that fails to be the case, bad outcomes will resonate. I don’t know if the Spielbergs will feel shame (it’s as likely they won’t,) but shame and guilt are both very necessary components of a human psyche. In a perfect world, parents would obviously feel shame if their children turned to being in porn, and this would serve as motivation to children to not consider anything so stupid, until they grow up and become wise enough to independently understand exactly WHY it is stupid, which it is.

      The Sexual Revolution utterly failed in every possible aspect and turned out to be 100% wrong about absolutely everything. Whatever you think of those puritan Bible-thumpers decrying casual sex, they won everything except the culture war. People who remain virgins until marriage have the happiest marriages and the most satisfying sex lives. They are statistically almost STD and divorce-proof. Their children are better adjusted, mentally healthier, and better off.

      Meanwhile, in the liberated culture at large, STDs are a literal epidemic, loneliness and sexual frustration are at the highest levels ever known, the average teenager has the anxiety levels of a 1950s mental patient, and men and women are now failing en masse at even understanding or liking one another in real life. And porn is an artless, soul-sucking, abuse-fueled waste of life that fuels every one of these pathologies while contributing nothing even remotely good.

  9. Her parents (and their feelings) are of less importance per se than the aura of their celebrity* surrounding their daughter. She is automatically a role model — particularly for young black girls. They will follow her, become her, outdo her regardless of consequences, not realizing that they will have no control over what happens to them. This is the worst image to come out of Hollywood in modern times.

    *the aura of celebrity has nothing to do with reputation. Those who follow the daughter don’t give a damn about the parents; they may not even know of them. What they will take away from pictures such as the one used here is that daddy (and probably mommy, if she doesn’t open her mouth) – is that her parent(s) will pretend to approve, no matter what. And that is further encouragement for her entourage.

  10. I don’t much care what Ms. Spielberg does with her body, so the only detail I found interesting in this whole story is that her budding porn career is on hold while she awaits the issuance of her “sex worker license” from the state of Tennessee (where she lives, apparently) before she can publish her porn publicly. The idea that the state is needed to license people to shake their asses for the entertainment of other people both amuses and horrifies me. What, precisely, is the state’s interest being served here? Is it really a legitimate government function to determine that you’re properly qualified to titillate?

      • It is, indeed, though it turns the stupidity level up even a couple more notches. Licensing art therapists is massively dumb, but at least, if art therapy is a legitimate field, they could conceivably come up with some kinds of standards and procedures that they’d be ostensibly checking you out on. It’s a very weak argument in that case, but it does exist.

        Requiring a license to shake your knockers on the internet, though… I presume there isn’t a board made up of Tennessee pornographers compiling a list of standard erotic practices you are required to show proficiency in… It strikes me less as a cartel keeping competition in check, like the previous example, and more like the state trying to capture a new revenue stream while also giving themselves a new law they can use in cases where existing pornography or “decency” statutes aren’t broken, but they still want to find some way to prosecute someone.

        I’m actually surprised this hasn’t been challenged on first amendment grounds. I’m not sure you’d win, but it seems like it’s tailor-made for a hungry activist attorney to get lots of free publicity for himself and his attention-seeking client by challenging the law with a comely young aspiring Volunteer State porn star by his side for the cameras.

      • NO! There is no Tennessee sex worker license! Licensed occupations in Tennessee (including police officers) are regulated by the Department of Commerce and Insurance. https://www.tn.gov/commerce/licensing-regulations.html
        Nashville, one of Tennessee’s liberal Democrat enclaves, has a “Sexually Oriented Business Licensing Board,” but I don’t live near Nashville and have no idea what businesses this might include beyond the obvious strip clubs and “adult” book stores.
        And, to answer Jack’s question, yes, one does have an ethical obligation not to embarrass one’s parents.
        As a Christian, I must yield to God’s authority and commandment to honor one’s father and mother. I am 66 and my mother is 85, and I cringe at the guilt I would feel if any action of mine caused her shame, embarrassment or humiliation.
        Concerning the degradation and depravity of the rich and famous, I am reminded of the wisdom of Mark 8:36 :”What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his soul?” Indeed.

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