Texas grand jury indicts Netflix for promoting 'lewd' material on the French film Cuties.
Since Cuties premiered on Netflix on September 3, it has become the target of intense online criticism for exploiting young actors and encouraging the sexualization of children.
The streaming platform is now facing criminal charges in Texas over claims that the French drama sexually promotes lewd visual material depicting minors—a state jail felony.
Lucas Babin, the criminal district attorney in Tyler County, announced the indictment.
In a Facebook statement, Babin said:
After hearing about the movie Cuties and watching it, I knew there was probable cause to believe it was criminal.
But Netflix responded to the indictment in a statement writing:
Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children. This charge is without merit, and we stand by the film.
Well, for those who haven't watched the film, it tells the story of 11-year-old Senegalese immigrant Amy, who lives in an impoverished neighborhood in Paris.
Amy then becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew. Hoping to join them, she starts to explore her femininity, defying her conservative Muslim family's traditions.
Netflix and Directors Defend Cuties against Lawmakers Onslaught
Netflix purchased worldwide rights to the film shortly before it premiered at Sundance. The film then won the award for World Cinema Dramatic Directing.
But despite its accolades and critical acclaim, the movie has received criticism from fans and lawmakers. Some even go so far as to call it 'child pornography.'
However, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos has defended the platform's decision to stream a controversial film.
The streaming platform has said Cuties is a 'social commentary against the sexualization of young girls.' The film also serves as an eye-opener on how 'social media can enable that wrongdoing.'
As the platform likely faces a fine, Sarandos criticized the decision while at the Mipcom entertainment market.
It's a little surprising in 2020 America that we're having a discussion about censoring storytelling.
It's a film that is very misunderstood with some audiences, uniquely within the United States. The film speaks for itself.
It's a very personal coming of age film, it's the director's story, and the film has obviously played very well at Sundance without any of this controversy.
It also played in theaters throughout Europe without any of this controversy."
In an earlier interview, Cuties French-Senegalese director, Maimouna Doucoure, said the film is inspired by her own experience growing up as a refugee girl caught between the two cultures.
Speaking with TIME magazine, Doucoure said:
For me, this film is sounding an alarm. This film tries to show that our children should have the time to be children.
We, as adults, should protect their innocence and keep them innocent as long as possible.