Watch: The Cuties outrage explained
The #CancelNetflix social media campaign that kicked off with last month’s premiere of the controversial French film, Cuties, has quieted down in recent weeks.
But now a new front has emerged in the battle between the movie’s critics and Netflix. Texas Representative Matt Schaefer announced on Twitter that a grand jury in Tyler County has formally indicted the company over Cuties and its alleged exploitation of the movie’s young stars.
“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,” Schaefer wrote in his post.
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
In a statement provided to Yahoo Entertainment, a Netflix spokesperson responded to news of the indictment, writing: “Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualisation of young children. This charge is without merit and we stand by the film.”
That echoes the company’s continued support for the movie and its director, Maïmouna Doucouré, who has previously said that she shares “the same fight” as those who have accused the film of sexualising the young actresses onscreen. The director has also said that she based the story on her own life as the child of Senegalese immigrants living in France, as well as her observations and concerns for the plight of young girls growing up in the social media era.
Schaefer is far from the only politician who has spoken out publicly against the film. Texas Senator Ted Cruz previously wrote to the Justice Department urging them to investigate Netflix, while Christine Pelosi — political strategist and daughter of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi — called on the company to remove Cuties from its streaming platform.
And on Monday, Utah Senator Mike Lee condemned Netflix for the company’s response to a letter he had written three weeks earlier to CEO, Reed Hastings. “Asked whether the sexualisation of young girls depicted in Cuties constituted criminal conduct, Netflix offered only conclusory statements in denial. I am not convinced.” (The Tyler County indictment formally names Hastings and co-CEO Ted Sarandos as having “authorised or recklessly tolerated” promotion of the movie.)
News of the indictment led to a new round of celebratory #CancelNetflix posts on Twitter, although it has yet to be decided if or when the case will see the inside of a courtroom. In the meantime, Netflix is likely to continue streaming Cuties, especially following reports that a majority of households haven’t canceled their accounts. According to Variety, the initial surge in cancellations proved short-lived, and the service’s subscriber base largely remains unaffected a month later.
Cuties is currently streaming on Netflix.