A grand jury located in Tyler County, Texas has indicted Netflix on criminal charges that allege the streaming service is promoting “lewd visual material of a child” within their new film “Cuties.” The French film originally premiered at Sundance film festival earlier this year and was meant to be a commentary on the over-sexualization of children in the media and online with influencer culture, however, to a majority of viewers it felt as though the film is more so contributing to that problem, rather than speaking out against it.
The director of the film, Maïmouna Doucoure, has defended the film multiple times, despite the multiple petitions and calls for Netflix to remove the film from the platforms. According to IMDB, “Cuties” follows an 11-year-old girl named Amy who joins a new group of dancers called the cuties. Amy eventually “grows aware of her burgeoning femininity – upsetting her mother and her values in the process.”
“I decided to make this film and sound an alarm and say we need to protect our children. It’s bold, it’s feminist, but it’s so important and necessary to create debate and try to find solutions, for me as an artist, for politicians and parents. It’s a real issue.”
Many individuals didn’t feel the same way as Doucoure, and viewed the film to be a hypersexualization of the young girls that are meant to be seen as empowered. In the official complaint filed, the grand jury claims Netflix knowingly promoted inappropriate visual material which “depicts the lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 years of age at the time the visual material was created, which appeals to the prurient interest in sex, and has no serious, literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”
Netflix has already defended the decision to keep the project on the platform, claiming that the film is a “powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up.” To which the public responded, can’t we have that discussion without further contributing to the problem by advertising a movie about 11-year-olds doing inappropriate dance moves.
It’s a major point of contention that has opened a much larger conversation regarding the sexualization of young people in TV and film. This past Tuesday, Netflix released another statement defending the film, stating that it’s a social commentary and they “stand by the film.”
Initially the movie sparked a backlash movement on Twitter with the hashtag #CancelNetflix, and for Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin, he knew right away that there was “probable cause to believe it [the movie] was criminal.”
“The legislators of this state believe promoting certain lewd material of children has destructive consequences. A grand jury found probable cause for this felony, and my job is to uphold the laws of this State and see that justice is done.”
The Parents Television Council also recently called upon president Trump and the Department of Justice to interrogate Netflix about “Cuties” and the alleged “pattern of behavior” the platform has been exuding.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.