A controversial film released by Netflix has sparked widespread discussion in the press and on social media regarding whether its content constituted child pornography.
Now, one state has weighed in on the Cuties scandal by indicting Netflix on related criminal charges, as reported by The Hill.
“Appeals to the prurient interest”
According to The Hill, a Texas grand jury determined last month that the streaming service knowingly promoted “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.”
The movie at the center of the controversy is a French film that follows a Muslim preteen who discovers an infatuation with provocative dancing. Early clips led to criticism that it sexualizes several central characters.
In one scene, a competitor from an older dance group exposes a breast, leading to additional criticism depicting the movie as pornographic, according to TheBlaze.
Cuties was awarded at the Sundance Film Festival, and Netflix has defended its decision to carry what it called “a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” as Variety reports.
In a statement to Fox News, a spokesperson dismissed the Texas charges as “without merit,” reiterating that company executives “stand by the film.”
“Tools to grow up healthy”
As for the movie’s director, Maimouna Doucoure said she intended to make a statement regarding how young girls are often sexualized, blaming adults for having “not given children the tools to grow up healthy in our society.”
Of course, plenty of critics were outraged by the provocative scenes, insisting that the film went too far in its portrayal and promoting the #CancelNetflix hashtag on social media around the time of its release on the platform last month.
Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin’s office confirmed in a Facebook post that he “knew there was probable cause to believe it was criminal” after hearing about the film. The criminal count being pursued is a state jail felony.
“The legislators of this state believe promoting certain lewd material of children has destructive consequences,” Babin said. “If such material is distributed on a grand scale, isn’t the need to prosecute more, not less?”
Another prominent Texas official, Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, remarked shortly after Cuties premiered that it warranted an investigation of “possible child abuse,” Newsweek reported.