LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Netflix is now facing criminal charges in Texas after refusing to back down over the release of its film “Cuties,” which received backlash from conservative lawmakers and groups for allegedly promoting child pornography.
A grand jury in Tyler County, Texas, on Tuesday indicted the streaming giant on charges for the promotion of lewd visual material depicting a child, according to a press release from the county’s criminal district attorney, Lucas Babin.
The film, the grand jury found, violates section 43.262 of the Texas Penal Code, which makes it illegal to “knowingly promote visual material that depicts the lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child, which appeals to the prurient interest in sex and has no serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”
“The legislators of this state believe promoting certain lewd material of children has destructive consequences,” Babin said in a statement. “If such material is distributed on a grand scale, isn’t the need to prosecute more, not less?”
James Bradley, a local Republican who is running for Congress in California’s 33rd congressional district against incumbent Democrat Ted Lieu, tweeted his thoughts on the film, saying that anyone who supports “Cuties” is “enabling abuse.”
If you watch 11-year-olds twerk, you’re a pervert.
If you direct 11 year olds to touch themselves on camera, you’re a pedophile.
— James P. Bradley (@BradleyCongress) September 10, 2020
Netflix defended the film, saying it is a social commentary and does not glorify or promote child pornography.
“‘Cuties’ is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement, according to Variety. “It’s an award-winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up — and we’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie.”
The streaming service had previously apologized for a promotional poster that was criticized for deviating from the film’s original poster and featuring the girls posing provocatively in their dance costumes. Some said that the poses, along with the girls’ revealing outfits, was inappropriate because it was sexualizing the children.
“Cuties” is written and directed by French filmmaker Maïmouna Doucouré. It premiered at Sundance Film Festival in January and won the world cinema dramatic directing award.
The film is based on Doucouré’s short film “Maman(s),” about an 8-year-old girl who is furious when her dad marries a second wife and invites her to move into their Parisian apartment, which won the short film international fiction jury award at Sundance in 2016.