A Texas grand jury has indicted Netflix on a single felony charge: “promotion of lewd visual material depicting a child” regarding the French-language coming-of-age movie Cuties.
The movie, about an 11-year-old girl from Senegal who joins a dance troupe to escape an overbearing mother, has generated a firestorm of controversy for the SVOD pioneer regarding the film’s initial marketing and content that critics say overtly sexualizes underage girls.
The criminal complaint, filed Sept. 23 in the 1A District Court of Tyler County in the state of Texas, was posted on the social media page of Matt Schaefer, a Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives.
The complaint, which calls out co-CEOs Ted Sarandos and Reed Hastings, alleges Netflix and management “knowingly promote visual 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 at the time the visual material was created, which appeals to the prurient interest in sex, and has no serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”
The complaint alleges the movie’s values act against “the peace and dignity of the state” of Texas.
In a statement, Netflix said Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children — a point of view shared by the film’s director Maïmouna Doucoure.
“This charge is without merit and we stand by the film,” said the streamer.