Netflix Indicted By Texas Grand Jury For ‘Lewd Exhibition’ Of Children In Film ‘Cuties’
If you're a regular Netflix user, you've probably seen the promotion material used to showcase the media giant's latest film Cuties. If not, chances are you've come across a few stories across social media that condemn the film all together. Let me catch you up before we get in to what one East Texas county had to say.
The film Cuties follows the story of an 11-year-old girl’s obsession over a provocative dance group. The film, which earned high honors at the Sundance Film Festival in France, shows the group of girls' gyrating thighs, butts and stomachs, according to The Washington Post. The movie was filmed with a counselor on set, and the project was approved by the French government’s child-protection authorities.
Fast forward now to this week, where Tyler County says enough is enough. The Tyler County grand jury indicted Netflix on charges of promotion of lewd visual material depicting a child. The charge is a state jail felony.
Texas Rep. Matt Schaefer (R-Tyler) tweeted a photo of the indictment where the court filing claims Netflix knowingly shared material that "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."
Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin says his county opted to indict Netflix for the promotion of the film in Tyler County, although the film has no obvious connections to the state.
Texas Rangers served a summons to Netflix last week.
Babin said in a press release that, "As a district attorney, I have to sift through countless cases and make calls every day on how to keep our communities safe. In our county, it's not uncommon for me to confront cases with underage victims. After hearing about the movie Cuties and watching it, I knew there was probable cause to believe it was criminal. If such material is distributed on a grand scale, isn't the need to prosecute more, not less?"
In Texas, a corporation convicted of a felony can face a fine of up to $20,000.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz also wrote a letter addressing the issue to U.S. Attorney General William Barr.
"Although the First Amendment provides vigorous protection for artistic expression, it does not allow individuals or for-profit corporations to produce or distribute child pornography," Sen. Cruz states. "Accordingly, I urge the Department to investigate the production of “Cuties” and Netflix’s distribution of the film in order to determine whether Netflix, any of its executives, or anyone involved with the making of “Cuties” violated any federal laws against the production and distribution of child pornography."
Netflix has not responded publicly to the controversy.
Cuties is currently streaming on Netflix.