Public outrage and backlash continue against Netflix for their controversial movie depicting sexualized 11-year-old girls.
On Tuesday, a grand jury in Tyler County, Texas, indicted the streaming service over their movie “Cuties,” charging Netflix for knowingly “promoting visual material which depicts lewd exhibition of pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 years of age … which appeals to the prurient interest in sex,” according to the indictment document shared online by State Rep. Matt Schaefer (R–Tyler).
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 promotion of said film was authorized or recklessly tolerated by a high managerial agent of Netflix, Inc., namely, Wilmot Reed Hastings Jr. or Theodore Anthony Sarandos Jr.,” the indictment continued.
Netflix’s film, which they released online in September, is a story about how “11-year-old Amy starts to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew,” according to the company’s synopsis. The movie was rated TV-MA.
The film not only includes “many close-up shots of little girls’ crotches and buttocks,” but it also links young girls to pornography, discussions of sexual acts, a child photographing her genitalia, and more, as a review by the Daily Caller News Foundation found.
Netflix immediately drew nationwide backlash, including numerous petitions demanding the company remove the movie (one petition has more than 400,000 supporters) and a crowd of elected officials calling for prosecution and investigation into the company.
“[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,” wrote U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz in a letter to Attorney General William Barr. Cruz urged the Department of Justice to investigate if Netflix violated any federal child pornography laws.
“It is likely that the filming of this movie created even more explicit and abusive scenes, and that pedophiles … will manipulate and imitate this film in abusive ways,” Cruz added.
Almost three dozen U.S. congressmen signed onto another letter also calling for Attorney General Barr to bring charges against Netflix for child pornography, describing the movie’s “distressing depictions of minors including the display of an 11-year-old child’s bare breast.”
“Child pornography is any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor, and that conduct does not need to specifically depict sexual activity to qualify,” the letter read. “Cuties clearly meets the United States’ legal definition of child pornography.”
After the Texas grand jury indictment on Tuesday, Netflix released a statement defending their movie.
“Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” the company wrote. “This charge is without merit and we stand by the film.”
Austin attorney Tony McDonald, however, applauded the grand jury’s decision.
“Texans have the tools they need to go after those who distribute obscene material online and to prosecute them to the full extent of the law,” said McDonald. “Major media companies act like they are above the law, but when they choose to push filth into our homes, they are subject to prosecution under existing laws designed to protect children from this behavior. The grand jury in Tyler should be commended for stepping up to put an end to criminal exploitation of children in their community.”