Netflix indicted over ‘lewd’ child film
Netflix has been indicted by a grand jury in the US for allegedly promoting "lewd visual material" of a child in connection to the release of the controversial French film Cuties.
The movie has faced a major backlash online, with many saying it's basically an incognito child porn film targeting paedophiles.
Cuties focuses on a young Senegalese girl who joins a French hip-hop dance troupe.
It's supposed to be a coming-of-age dramedy, based loosely on the experiences of writer and director Maïmouna Doucouré.
The film premiered at Sundance film festival where it was then acquired by Netflix earlier this year.
However, the film has now landed the streaming giant in hot water.
A grand jury in Tyler County, Texas returned the indictment against the streaming giant on September 23, it was revealed overnight.
The indictment charges that Netflix did "knowingly promote 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."
It specifically mentions the award-winning film Cuties, which also goes by the French title "Mignonnes" and was released on Netflix on September 9.
Despite it's accolades from some critics, many have panned the film, claiming it exploits and sexualises children.
Netflix is comfortable with this. Plenty of people will defend it. This is where our culture is at. pic.twitter.com/UlqEmXALmd— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) September 10, 2020
Texas senator Ted Cruz is among several US politicians who have called for a Department of Justice investigation of Netflix over the film.
"The video streaming service and content producer Netflix is currently hosting a film entitled Cuties that sexualises young girls, including through dance scenes that simulate sexual activities and a scene exposing a minor's bare breast," Cruz said in a letter last month to Attorney-General Bill Barr.
In a statement Tuesday, a Netflix spokesman said: "Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualisation of young children. This charge is without merit and we stand by the film."
The streaming service was forced to issue and apology over a poster it used to promote the film prior to its release which showed the film's young stars posing in revealing dance outfits.
It quickly drew criticism online and led to thousands signing an online petition calling for the film to be banned from the online streaming platform.
"We're deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Mignonnes/Cuties," Netflix said in a statement. "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 also altered the description of the film when it changed the poster - updating it to say she'd come from a "conservative family" and removing the reference to twerking.
After Netflix apologised, some critics were still not happy, saying the problem was with the age of the children in the film.
"This is actually disgusting," one woman wrote on Twitter. "11 year-olds twerking and the show is rated for mature audiences? Whoever came up with this idea needs to be fired and promptly arrested, and this whole thing needs to never see the light of day."
Originally published as Netflix indicted over 'lewd' child film