A grand jury in Tyler County, Texas has indicted Netflix. The company 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,” according to the indictment.
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 charge is a state felony. Netflix has been served with a summons, though an arraingment date hasn’t been set. The company’s co-CEOs, Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos, were named in the indictment.
“Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” Netflix told Reuters in a statement. “This charge is without merit and we stand by the film.” The French movie is about an 11-year-old Muslim girl who, according to Netflix, “starts to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew.”
Even before Cuties started streaming on September 9th, Netflix received blowback over a promotional poster that allegedly sexualized young girls. The company apologized for the “inappropriate” imagery and said it wasn’t representative of the film. Turkey, meanwhile, instructed Netflix to block access to Cuties in the country.
We're deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Mignonnes/Cuties. It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which won an award at Sundance. We’ve now updated the pictures and description.
— Netflix (@netflix) August 20, 2020
Cuties won an award at the Sundance Film Festival, where it premiered in January. The film’s director, Maïmouna Doucouré, told Deadline last month that she has received attacks on her character from “people who had not seen the film, who thought I was actually making a film that was apologetic about hypersexualiation of children.” She also claims to have received death threats.