A Texas grand jury has indicted Netflix for “promotion of lewd visual material” depicting children for the company’s controversial movie Cuties.
The grand jury, in Tyler County, Texas, issued the indictment and said Netflix “knowingly promote[d] visual material which depicts the lewd exhibition” of children.
Texas state Rep. Matt Schaefer posted a picture of the indictment on social media. The Texan newspaper first reported about 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
Cuties, rated TV-MA, follows a group of 11-year-old girls who join a dance group named “Cuties” and “become aware of their own femininity through dance,” according to the show’s description. A Twitter clip that has amassed 22.5 million views shows the girls on stage dressed in revealing outfits while they twerk and grind their hips, among other suggestive moves.
The indictment says the film depicts the “genitals or pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 years of age” and “appeals to the prurient interest in sex, and has no serious literacy, artistic, political, or scientific value.”
Schaefer previously said Netflix should be prosecuted. In September, he asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to investigate the film.
“If this is legal,” Schaefer told The Texan last month, “then literally anybody with a camera can get an underage girl, very young girl, and have her do nearly anything as long as there is the thinnest piece of fabric covering her body. Ultimately, we have to realize that this film is gonna be seen by a lot of 12, 13, 14, 15, 16-year old boys. How is that not material harmful to a minor?”
Tim Winter, president of the Parents Television Council, applauded the grand jury’s action and called it a “bold action.
“The admirable intention of the film to raise awareness of the pressure girls have in today’s sexualized culture is entirely obviated by the sexualization and exploitation depicted in the film,” Winter said. “Cuties is only the latest example of a host of programs that should be scrutinized because they sexually exploit children. It is time for Netflix to be held to account for enabling these kinds of programs to exist on its platform.”
Netflix, though, stood by the program after the indictment.
“Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” a spokesperson told Deadline. “This charge is without merit and we stand by the film.”
Netflix has lost subscribers over the film. Its cancellation rate on Saturday, Sept. 12 was eight times higher compared to the average daily cancellation rate in August, according to YipitData. Wells Fargo analyst Steven Cahall says Netflix likely has lost at least 2 million subscribers over the controversy.
The case is the State of Texas v. Netflix.
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Photo courtesy: ©Netflix
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.