Netflix is facing criminal prosecution over the controversial film ‘Cuties,’ after a Texas grand jury indicted the entertainment streaming service for lewd depiction of children.
The French film – which follows pre-pubescent girls – caused outrage amongst the world public for showing crass and sexual behaviour.
Director Maïmouna Doucouré was forced to apologise after a poster of the film was said to be ‘too obscene’ and was pulled down and changed.
And now, Netflix is facing criminal charges in a small East Texas county after Texas politicians were outraged by the film.
The district attorney in Tyler County, where the grand jury indicted Netflix, is the son of U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, who has labeled the movie “child pornography.”
The Tyler County grand jury indicted the company, not its executives, on charges of promotion of lewd visual material depicting a child, a state jail felony.
In Texas, a corporation convicted of a felony can face a fine of up to $20,000, according to the penal code. If the court further finds that the company benefited financially from a crime, the penalties can increase to twice the amount earned.
The complaint alleges Netflix “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.”
However, Netflix previously called the movie “a struggle for all teenage girls across the world” and they doubled down after the indictment saying “Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children.”
“This charge is without merit and we stand by the film,” Netflix stated.
Director Maïmouna Doucouré, a French-Senegalese immigrant, defended her film saying, “We, as adults, have not given children the tools to grow up healthy in our society.”
The film tells the coming-of-age story of an 11-year-old Senegalese girl as she discovers her maturing self, all while looking for acceptance in her religious family and group of young dancers she hopes to befriend.
However, the film depicts girls – mostly underage even for France – twerking and talking in a sexual manner.
The outrage saw Netflix stocks fall and subscriptions cancelled in droves.
Lucas Babin, Tyler County District Attorney, said in a statement posted on the office’s official Facebook page that the summons was served on Netflix October 1st by Texas Rangers.
“The legislators of this state believe promoting certain lewd material of children has destructive consequences,” Babin said in the statement.
“If such material is distributed on a grand scale, isn’t the need to prosecute more, not less? A grand jury in Tyler County found probably cause for this felony, and my job is to uphold the laws of this state and see that justice is done.”
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