Netflix Files Appeal to Federal Gov't to Block ‘Cuties’ Child Pornography Case - Report

© AP Photo / Jenny Kane Logo for Netflix on a remote control
 Logo for Netflix on a remote control  - Sputnik International, 1920, 06.03.2022
The Netflix “Cuties”, which focuses on a group of 11-year-old French schoolgirls who “explore their femininity” by dancing and twerking, has come under fire, as some scenes were slammed for sexually objectifying underage characters.
The controversy escalated to the legal level after child pornography charges were brought by a Texas district attorney, and last week, the media company appealed to the federal court, seeking to dismiss the case, filed by Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin, according to Fox News.
“Netflix brings this complaint to enjoin Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin from abusing his office and infringing Netflix, Inc.’s constitutional rights,” the 23-page federal complaint says, as cited by Fox News, adding that Babin “has indicted Netflix not just once but five times,” and “each indictment violates the United States Constitution and comes in retaliation against Netflix’s exercising its First Amendment rights to free speech and to petition the government for redress.”
“Without the court’s intervention, Netflix will suffer irreparable harm by being forced to continue playing Babin’s game in state court and defending itself against even more baseless charges. The court has jurisdiction over this case and should grant Netflix the preliminary and permanent injunctive relief Netflix needs to vindicate its rights for all of the reasons shown further below,” the federal complaint adds.
The first wave of backlash came before the release, when Netflix was criticized because of a poster promoting the drama. The streaming service was accused of objectification, as the characters were depicted in what was considered to be “sexual” poses. Some viewers also noticed that the poster differed from the one presented at the Sundance Film Festival. In the initial version, the girls had less parts of their bodies exposed.
Netflix had to apologize not only for the image, but also for its description of the “Cuties”. In particular, the synopsis emphasized that 11-year-old Amy, who was praised for denouncing her family’s Muslim values by hoping to become a member of the twerk dance team, “rapidly grows aware of her burgeoning femininity.”
“Cuties” sparked more controversy after its release in September 2020 with hashtag #CancelNetflix started trending shortly after and Parents Television Council (PTC) calling for then-President Donald Trump and the Department of Justice to probe the streaming giant for content that "sexualizes" children.
In October, after a Texas grand jury brought criminal felony charges against Netflix, Attorney Babin announced in a statement that Netflix had been indicted for "promotion of lewd visual material depicting a child."
"The legislators of this state believe promoting certain lewd material of children has destructive consequences. If such material is distributed on a grand scale, isn't the need to prosecute more, not less?” he said in a statement.
In September last year, several senators, including Ted Cruz (R-TX), also requested the Justice Department to investigate the company for potential violations of federal laws against the production and distribution of child pornography.
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