TYLER COUNTY, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – The District Court in Tyler County in East Texas has indicted Netflix for Promotion of ‘Lewd Visual Material Depicting A Child’ after the streaming platform made the program Cuties available online in September.
According to a court filing the State Of Texas accused the company of promoting “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.”
Texas Representative Matt Schaefer (Rep – Tx House Dist. 6) tweeted the indictment on Tuesday, October 6.
The backlash to the French independent film started before it had even been released because of a poster that went viral for its provocative depiction of its young female actors. But the spotlight has only intensified since the film became available on Netflix.
The film was released in the U.S. on Netflix in September. A description for the film on the streaming service reads: “Eleven-year-old Amy starts to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew.”
Netflix, Inc. indicted by grand jury in Tyler Co., Tx for promoting material in Cuties film which depicts lewd exhibition of pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 yrs of age which appeals to the prurient interest in sex #Cuties #txlege pic.twitter.com/UJ1hY8XJ2l
— Matt Schaefer (@RepMattSchaefer) October 6, 2020
The film has also become the target of heightened outrage from members of Congress.
Cruz sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, calling for a criminal investigation of the film. He accused the film of sexualizing pre-adolescent girls.
In his letter, Cruz said:
“The film routinely fetishizes and sexualizes these pre-adolescent girls as they perform dances simulating sexual conduct in revealing clothing, including at least one scene with partial child nudity. These scenes in and of themselves are harmful. And it is likely that the filming of this movie created even more explicit and abusive scenes, and that pedophiles across the world in the future will manipulate and imitate this film in abusive ways.”
The senator concludes the letter by saying:
“I urge the Department to investigate the production of ‘Cuties’ and Netflix’s distribution of the film in order to determine whether Netflix, any of its executives, or anyone involved with the making of ‘Cuties’ violated any federal laws against the production and distribution of child pornography.”
.@netflix’s ‘Cuties’ sexualizes 11-year-old girls, and it’s disgusting and wrong. That’s why I’ve asked AG Barr to investigate whether Netflix, its executives, or the filmmakers violated any federal laws against the production and distribution of child pornography. pic.twitter.com/OuhE6ifmGi
— Senator Ted Cruz (@SenTedCruz) September 13, 2020
State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Texas) tweeted earlier this week that he asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to also investigate the film for “possible violations of child exploitation and child pornography laws.”
Cruz’s entire letter can be read here.
“‘Cuties’ is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement, according to Variety. “It’s an award-winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up — and we’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie.”
The film’s director Maïmouna Doucouré told the the online publication Zora, “With this film, I wanted to give these young children a voice while protecting them. I also wanted to create a mirror for adults to look at ourselves and see where we have gone wrong with this problem.” Before the film’s release, Doucouré told Zora, “I’m eager to see their reaction when they realize that we’re both on the same side of this fight against young children’s hypersexualization.”
This story has been updated to correct the place of occurrence. The grand jury is from Tyler County in East Texas.
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