Netflix has been indicted in Texas on charges that the film Cuties contains lewd depictions of children.
The indictment follows a controversial backlash from conservative groups over certain scenes in the film where young girls dance provocatively.
A grand jury in Tyler County, Texas, is charging Netflix with “Promotion Of Lewd Visual Material Depicting A Child,” a criminal act in Texas that was introduced into state law in 2018, Reuters reported.
The charge alleges that Cuties, a movie about a group of young girls who form a dance troupe, “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,” according to the indictment filing.
The filing also states that said content “appeals to the prurient interest in sex, and has no serious, literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.” (The film screened at the Sundance Film Festival where it netted director and writer Maïmouna Doucouré the Sundance’s Global Filmmaking Award in 2017.)
Netflix was served a summons on October 1st, with co-CEOs Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos individually named. The company rejects the justification for the charges; a Netflix spokesperson tells The Verge that “cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children.”
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 one of “the dumbest and most absurd” in the state, Texas-based defence attorney Paul Saputo said. Texas’ law specifically notes that the content can’t possess any “serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”
The fact that Doucouré earned a top prize from one of the most renowned film festivals in the world, and achieved critical acclaim from some of the most respected critics, proves that Cuties contains serious artistic value, according to Saputo.