Netflix is facing a criminal charge in Texas over the allegedly “lewd” depiction of children in a film on its platform.
The film, called ‘Cuties’, follows an 11-year-old Senegalese girl living in Paris who rebels against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a dance crew.”
It quickly became a target of protests after the streaming platform admitted it had used “inappropriate artwork” to market it. Critics said the film and its promotional materials sexualized the young girls, equating it with child exploitation or child pornography.
The indictment, handed down in Tyler County, Texas, states that Netflix promoted, distributed and exhibited 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” for the “prurient interest in sex.” It also states that the material held no serious “literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”
Netflix has defended the film, saying in a statement that ‘Cuties’ is “a social commentary against the sexualization of young children.” It said the indictment was “without merit and we stand by the film.”
The film’s writer-director, Franco-Senegalese film-maker Maïmouna Doucouré, received a world cinema dramatic directing award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. She has described her work as “a deeply feminist film with an activist message” that aims to show how social media pushes girls to mimic sexualised imagery.