Netflix chief executive Ted Sarandos recently defended the controversial film “Cuties” that was shown on his network after a Texas grand jury indicted the company for running the movie that highlights the experiences of four 11-year-old girls who belonged to a French “sensual dance” group.
Sarandos spoke at the virtual Mipcom market on Monday and said the film was simply “misunderstood” and also said that “it’s a little surprising in 2020 America that we’re having a discussion about censoring storytelling.”
“It’s a film that is very misunderstood with some audiences, uniquely within the United States,” Sarandos added. “The film speaks for itself. It’s a very personal coming of age film, it’s the director’s story and the film has obviously played very well at Sundance without any of this controversy and played in theaters throughout Europe without any of this controversy.”
The French film, rated TV-MA in the United States (for mature audiences only) has won awards in France but received immediate criticism once it debuted on Netflix. It was said to over-sexualize young children, and viewers/subscribers immediately began a petition called “Cancel Netflix Subscription,” with the hashtag #CancelNetflix trending quickly on social media.
Soon after, a Texas grand jury indicted Netflix on charges that they “knowingly promote[d] 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 indictment specifically mentions the film “Cuties,” which is also known by its French title “Mignonnes.” The film, which was released on Netflix on September 9, is the story of an 11-year-old Muslim girl living in Paris who joins a dance crew. The controversial film also premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
And still…Netflix has stood by its decision to stream the film and have barely even offered an apology for using “inappropriate artwork” to promote the project. In fact, a Netflix spokesperson had the audacity to claim that by streaming a film about the sexualization of young children, the company was working to combat the sexualization of young children.
“Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children. 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. This charge is without merit and we stand by the film,” the spokesperson said.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz is among several Washington lawmakers who have called for a Department of Justice investigation of Netflix due to the broadcast of the film.
“The video streaming service and content-producer Netflix is currently hosting a film entitled ‘Cuties’ that sexualizes young girls, including through dance scenes that simulate sexual activities and a scene exposing a minor’s bare breast,” Cruz said in a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr.
Featured Image by Daniel Benavides