Netflix's troubles regarding the French-Senegalese film Cuties isn't quite over. The streaming giant was hit with an indictment in Texas over the movie's alleged promotion of the sexual exploitation of minors.
Representative Matt Schaefer shared the indictment Tuesday on Twitter. "Netflix, Inc. indicted by grand jury in Tyler Co., Tx for promoting material in Cuties film which depicts lewd exhibition of pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 yrs of age which appeals to the prurient interest in sex #Cuties #txlege," he wrote.
A Netflix spokesperson responded to the indictment in a statement to Newsweek: "Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children. This charge is without merit and we stand by the film."
The film, directed by Sundance winner Maïmouna Doucouré, follows an 11-year-old Senegalese immigrant named Amy living in Paris who joins an adolescent dance group, The Cuties, in her attempts to determine her identity in her new world. A coming of age journey of sorts, Amy essentially emulates the sexualized behavior typically portrayed by women in Western societies as a means to fit in and performs dance routines with her peers that imitate the older, sexually uninhibited women they are trying to emulate.
The indictment against Netflix comes following outrage over the film's release in September. Hundreds of critics called out the film's sexualization of young girls in various scenes throughout the movie, particularly ones in which they copy an older dance group's sexual moves and another in which one 11-year-old member of the dance troupe takes photos of her genitals, although no nudity is actually showcased.
Along with a petition to #CancelNetflix, dozens of Congressmen, particularly Republican members of the House and Senate, have criticized the platform, including some members who have even requested for the Department of Justice to prosecute Netflix for its release of the film. Thirty-three members of the House signed Representative Jim Banks' letter recommending the department "bring charges against Netflix, Inc. for the distribution of the film Cuties, which contains child pornography."
"Child pornography is any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor, and that conduct does not need to specifically depict sexual activity to qualify," the letter continued. "Cuties clearly meets the United States' legal definition of child pornography."
Texas Senator Ted Cruz also called for the DOJ's involvement, writing in a letter that Cuties "routinely fetishizes and sexualizes these pre-adolescent girls as they perform dances simulating sexual conduct in revealing clothing including at least one scene with partial child nudity. These scenes in and of themselves are harmful."
"It is likely that the filming of this move created even more explicit and abusive scenes, and that pedophiles... will manipulate and imitate this film in abusive ways," he added.
While Netflix did initially take a hit with a surge of canceled subscriptions, recent data provided by 7Park Data showed that the backlash against the streamer over the movie essentially subsided after a week of Cuties' release. Within the first few days of the movie's arrival to Netflix, canceled subscriptions "hit a peak of about five times the churn rate of Jan. 1, 2019," Variety reported. However, a week later, "cancellations had subsided to previous levels."
This article has been updated to include a statement from Netflix.