Netflix Indicted by Texas Grand Jury Over 'Cuties' Depiction of Children

Netflix Indicted by Texas Grand Jury Over 'Cuties' Depiction of Children

October 6, 2020

Film argues “against the sexualization of young children,” and “charge is without merit,” Netflix says

Netflix

Netflix is standing by “Cuties” after being indicted by a grand jury in a Texas county district court over claims the French film promotes “lewd visual material” depicting a child.

The indictment, filed in Tyler County, Texas on September 23 and obtained by TheWrap, claims that the film “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.” The charge names Ted Sarandos and Reed Hastings and argues that the critically acclaimed film has “no serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”

“‘Cuties’ is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children. This charge is without merit and we stand by the film,” Netflix said in a statement responding to to the lawsuit.

The Tyler County district attorney Lucas Babin said in a statement that he has watched “Cuties” and felt there was “probable cause” to believe it was in violation of Texas Penal Code.

“As a district attorney, I have to sift through countless cases and make calls every day on how to keep our communities safe. In our county, it is not uncommon for me to confront cases with underage victims,” Babin said in a statement. “After hearing about the movie ‘Cuties’ and watching it, I knew there was probable cause to believe it was criminal under Section 43.262 of the Texas Penal Code. The legislators of this state believe promoting certain lewd material of children has destructive consequences. If such material is distributed on a grand scale, isn’t the need to prosecute more, not less? A grand jury in Tyler county found probable cause for this felony, and my job is to uphold the laws of this State and see that justice is done.”

The indictment is the latest in the saga surrounding “Cuties,” which for months has been the target of a QAnon-linked campaign to have it removed from the streaming service that has been publicly supported by conservatives Ted Cruz and Laura Ingraham, among others. The controversy started after Netflix shared what it admitted was an “inappropriate” poster of the 11-year-old protagonists striking suggestive poses in revealing dance attire. Netflix pulled the poster and apologized for the marketing choice but said the poster did not represent the actual content of the film.

French-Senegal director Maimouna Doucouré directed “Cuties,” and her film is the story of a girl who rebels against her religious mother by joining a dance team, only to experience new emotional issues when her new dance team sexualizes herself and her team. Both she and Netflix have repeatedly defended the film as one that hopes to stop the exploitation of young girls and the hyper-sexualization of children.

“We have to protect our children,” Doucouré said last month in a panel discussion with UniFrance. “The most important thing is watch the film. Watch the film and understand that we are on the same, we have the same fight.”

Netflix was served with a summons by the Texas Rangers on October 1. The statement from the district attorney’s office says the offense is a State Jail Felony.

See the lawsuit via Texas representative Matt Schaefer below:

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

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