A hot potato: The Sundance Film Festival's award-winning film Cuties has seen no end of controversy since first airing on Netflix. Some have ventured to go as far as calling it "soft child porn," while others say it at the very least sexualizes children. Others believe it is art and that it is a social commentary against the sexualization of children. Now Netflix is facing charges in Texas over the promotion and airing of the film.
A Texas grand jury has indicted Netflix on charges of child pornography-related charges. The dustup is over the controversial film Cuties. Specifically, the streaming giant is charged with "Promotion Of Lewd Visual Material Depicting A Child," a Texas law passed in 2018.
Reuters notes that a Tyler County grand jury alleges that the movie "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."
Texas Representative Matt Schaefer broke the news with a tweet of the first page of the filing early Wednesday morning.
The movie, which was banned in Turkey, is about a group of pre-teen girls in a dance troupe. Some scenes show the girls twerking and grinding in sexually provocative ways. Many groups have spoken out against the content and marketing material. Netflix previously apologized for the "sexualized" images of the girls in the promotional ad, which was admittedly more provocative than the films original poster (above). However, the company now stands behind its airing of the movie, which won Sundance's Global Filmmaking Award in 2017.
"Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children. This charge is without merit, and we stand by the film," said a Netflix spokesperson.
Deadline reports that Netflix co-CEOs Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos are listed as defendants in the indictment. The company plans to fight the charges and refute the grand jury's assertion that the award-winning film does not constitute art.