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What Is Dan Schneider’s Fascination with Teenage Girls’ Feet, Anyway?

Legendary children’s television producer Dan Schneider has split with Nickelodeon, where he’s been making hit shows since 1994. The split has brought to light some of the rumors swirling around Schneider for years. The most salacious of these rumors is that Schneider is actually the father of the baby Jamie Lynn Spears became pregnant with at age 16 when she was starring on the Schneider-produced Zoey 101. He also produced three different shows starring Amanda Bynes, who had some very public personal problems. Rumors have been swirling that he did something to Bynes that was responsible for her breakdown, the implication being he molested her.

But I want to stress these rumors are just that, rumors, and they haven’t actually been substantiated by anyone.

What we do know is that Dan Schneider likes feet. I’m not saying he likes them sexually, he might just think they’re really funny. But it’s probably sexual. No one thinks feet are that funny. He’s sort of plastered his shows with barefoot teen girls for 25 years.

About six months ago, two Twitter detectives set about cataloguing his strange foot pre-occupation.

I’m going to skip the hand-wringing about the slightly risqué humor Schneider sometimes uses for now because I remember being 16, and at least for me and my friends lives were a constant stream of dick and fart jokes. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some weird stuff going on.

Well, that’s just TV, it’s not like he’s posting pictures of the feet of the teenaged stars of his shows on his personal Twitter or anything, right?

Oh.

The problem with these allegations is that they’ve been collected but no one has made any effort to actually verify them. Like this, for example.

Robert Downey, Jr. probably didn’t say that. In fact, he’s denied it. It was an anonymous blog post from some years ago, and the comment was from an anonymous source called “Himmmm”. Some people thought this was Robert Downey, Jr. and some people thought it was Talley Griffith (both of whom denied being Himmmm), but all we know for sure it was an anonymous poster to a blind-item gossip website whose identity was never revealed.

It’s kind of common for people to just assume anyone who works with children is a pedophile. For example, YA romance author John Green (The Fault in Our Stars) was rather famously accused of being some sort of pedophile on Tumblr, with the accusation based on nothing more than the fact that Green writes YA romance novels and interacted with his fans on social media. No one ever accused him of actually doing anything to anyone, just that it was “creepy” that he wrote books for teenagers.

My intuition is that Schneider hasn’t been spending the last 25 years fucking underage girls on the set of Nickelodeon shows, but that he’s doing what the makers of kids’ shows do now, which is marketing sex to children. About ten years ago there was an episode of South Park called “The Ring”, which was about how Disney used the Jonas Brothers’ purity rings and good Christian image to hide the fact that they were basically selling sex to little girls by having the Jonas Brothers spray foam out of a giant hose (a thing that actually happened in real life). Part of the inspiration for that episode is that one of South Park co-creator Trey Parker’s Comedy Central co-workers took her young daughter to see the Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience film, after which the little girl told her mother, “Mommy, my giney tickles”, a line Parker used in the final episode.

Dan Schneider hasn’t been on the Nick Studios lot for 25 years because someone likes him, he’s produced hit after hit for the network. There are a lot of teens and pre-teens who are buying what Schneider is selling, and he probably knows that putting Miranda Cosgrove in a bikini is a good way to get 14-year-old boys to watch iCarly.

So maybe Dan Schneider just has a thing for teenaged girls, which is why he puts stuff like this in shows for teenagers:

Or maybe he’s just trying to sell the show to an audience of teenagers and pre-teens who have a sex drive. That explanation doesn’t exactly make him seem any less creepy, but I think it’s a lot more likely to be true. It’s much more comforting to people to think that one guy in Hollywood is a pedophile than to face the reality that teenagers spend most of their free time either fucking each other or thinking about fucking each other, and that Hollywood is well aware of that and uses that knowledge to sell things to them. I definitely watched Clarissa Explains It All way more because I had a crush on Melissa Joan Hart than because it was a good show, and I doubt I’m the only one.

Our choices are that Nickelodeon covered up a pedophile sexually abusing minors on the Nick Studios lot for decades or that Dan Schneider is a hack who exploits teen sexuality to get viewers, and I think Occam’s Razor points to hack. He did create What I Like About You, and if you’ve ever seen it, it’s pretty clear that’s the work of a hack.

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