By Tom Campisi
A grand jury in Tyler County, Texas recently indicted Netflix for promotion of lewd visual material depicting a child. The summons, which stemmed from the streaming of the film “Cuties,” was served on the corporation on October 1 by the Texas Rangers. The offense is a state jail felony.
“Cuties,” which premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in January, tells the story of a Senegalese-French girl with a traditional Muslim upbringing who is caught between traditional values and Internet culture, according to Wikipedia. The producers claim that the film is intended to criticize the hyper-sexualization of pre-adolescent girls, yet many concerned pro-family leaders and parents have condemned the movie for doing the exact thing it claims to expose.
“The movie does not simply tell a sad story about young girls being sexually exploited; many would argue it celebrates their sexploitation,” wrote radio commentator Michael H. Brown. “The movie itself exploits the children.”
Lucas Babin, the district attorney of Tyler County said the film exploits underage girls.
“After hearing about the movie and watching it, I knew there was probable cause to believe it was criminal under Section 43.262 of the Texas Penal Code,” he said. “The legislatures of this state believe promoting certain lewd material of children has destructive consequences.”
In an email to supporters, Robert Noland, communications manager for the Family Policy Alliance, celebrated the indictment of Netflix.
“The movie is pornographic and clearly meets the legal definition of child pornography in federal law,” he said.
On October 5, the Family Policy Alliance sent a petition signed by more than 17,500 people to Attorney General William Barr, calling on the DOJ to enforce federal obscenity law – including laws against child pornography.
“It is imperative and urgent that the federal government investigate and prosecute Netflix for distributing the pornographic film “Cuties,” the petition states.
Despite the indictment and pressure from outraged citizens, Netflix was unapologetic in a recent statement: “’Cuties’ is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children. This charge is without merit and we stand by the film.”
According to USA Today, two analytics companies that track Netflix subscribers reported in September that the streaming service saw an uptick in cancellations amid the controversy over the “coming-of-age” film.