Netflix facing criminal charge over 'lewd' film Cuties

Netflix facing criminal charge over 'lewd' film Cuties

10/07/2020

Netflix has been indicted in the US and is facing a criminal charge over the alleged ‘lewd’ depiction of children in controversial film Cuties.

After a petition was earlier launched calling for people to boycott Netflix over the movie, it’s been announced a grand jury in Tyler County, Texas, has indicted the company on the charge of ‘promotion of lewd visual material depicting child’.

Cuties centres on Amy, an 11-year-old Senegalese girl living in Paris, who is caught between traditional values and internet culture which focuses on the hyper-sexualisation of girls after she joins a group of dancers named ‘the cuties’ at school, and rapidly grows aware of her burgeoning femininity.

The indictment says Cuties appeals to the ‘prurient interest in sex’ and the material holds ‘no serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value’.

When it was confirmed the French film, directed by Maïmouna Doucouré, would launch on the streaming platform, many were in uproar and accused Netflix of ‘sexualising girls’ by releasing it – despite it winning the directing jury award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

However, in response to the indictment, Netflix has insisted it is standing by the film.

Defending Cuties, a representative of Netflix said in a statement to Metro.co.uk: ‘Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualisation of young children. This charge is without merit and we stand by the film.’

Texas Senator Ted Cruz has been leading the campaign against the film and sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr, accusing Cuties of sexualising young girls ‘through dance scenes simulating sexual activities, including one scene exposing a minor’s chest.’

He went on to explain: ‘Following Netflix’s disturbing promotion of ‘Cuties,’ I sent a letter calling on the DOJ to investigate whether Netflix, its executives, or the filmmakers violated any federal laws against the production and distribution of child pornography.’

The Senator has urged the Department of Justice to investigate the production and distribution of the film, including anyone involved.

Following the initial backlash, the company encouraged people to watch the movie before passing judgment.

A Netflix spokesperson said amid the uproar: ‘Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualisation of young children.

‘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.’

In a video explaining why she made the film, writer-director Doucoure said she considers it be ‘a deeply feminist film with an activist message’ that is a ‘mirror of today’s society, a mirror sometimes difficult to look into’.

She said she got the idea after seeing a group of 11-year-old girls dancing in a way ‘you would see in a video clip’ during a neighbourhood gathering in Paris.

The director said she spent the next year and a half meeting with hundreds of pre-teens to learn about how they felt about their femininity in today’s society, and how they felt about their self-image in the era of social media.

She added: ‘(Amy) believes she can find her freedom through that group of dancers and their hyper-sexualisation. But is that really true freedom? Especially when you are a kid? Of course not. Amy will, at the end, realise she can control her own path.’

Metro.co.uk contacted Netflix for comment.

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