Netflix has recently been the target of criticism over a controversial movie called Cuties. Now, the company is facing a criminal charge over the film.
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.
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.
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.
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