Has ‘Cuties’ controversy cost Netflix 2M viewers? Texas jury charges streaming giant for ‘lewd show of genitals’

The complaint alleges Netflix knowingly promoted visual material which 'depicts the lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area' of a clothed or partially clothed child


                            Has ‘Cuties’ controversy cost Netflix 2M viewers? Texas jury charges streaming giant for ‘lewd show of genitals’
‘Cuties’ (Netflix)
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Netflix may be the one-stop solution to watch new TV shows and movies but the streaming site's future seems to be in trouble over the ‘Cuties’ controversy. As per a recent update, Netflix has been indicted by a grand jury in Tyler County, Texas for "promotion of lewd visual material depicting a child" after the company refused to take down the controversial French film.

Directed by French-Senegalese Maïmouna Doucouré, the movie — that revolves around the story of Amy, an 11-year-old Senegalese-French girl with a traditional Muslim upbringing who gets swayed by the Internet culture and finds solace with a dance troupe — has been criticized for the hypersexualization of pre-adolescent girls. 

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State Representative Matt Schaeffer tweeted out the statement released by the Tyler County District Attorney’s office on Twitter. According to court documents, the complaint alleges Netflix “knowingly” promoted 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.”

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The streaming giant still stands by the film and said in a statement to NBC News. “Cuties 'is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children'. The charge is without merit and we stand by the film.”

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As per the same report, Senator Mike Lee said in a public statement Monday, October 5, 2020, that he spoke to Netflix employees on the phone and was “unsatisfied” with the company's response to his questions. “What I cannot understand, however, is how Netflix can condemn the conduct depicted in Cuties while celebrating the film and filmmakers who asked several underage girls to stand in front of a camera and engage in that same 'inappropriate, shameful' conduct for all the world to see,” Lee said.

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Netflix may be ready to battle it out in the court but their stance has led to the loss of millions of subscribers. The streaming giant could see its third-quarter streaming subscriber growth hit by the controversy around Cuties, Wells Fargo analyst Steven Cahall wrote in a report back on September 29, 2020. When the controversy was at its peak, #CancelNetflix started trending on Twitter and it was forecasted Netflix will lose 2 million US and Canadian subscribers in that quarter.

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A sign is posted in front of the Netflix headquarters (Getty Images)

Since then, several Twitter users have expressed their indignation towards it and some even said they wanted to see the streaming giant "completely destroyed". "When are you going to get drop cuties so I can let my kids watch power rangers again?" a concerned parent wrote. Another said, ""****There's just so many things wrong here. It's nothing to laugh about. It's nothing to promote. It's completely disturbing and disgusting that you would promote it as a Top 20 latest movies to watch. Take it down! #cutiesnetflix #cuties #Cancelnetflix #cancelcuties."

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After the news hit the stands, one Twitter user wrote, "Good I want to see netflix completely destroyed. It’s just and evil propaganda machine," and another said, "I canceled mine a few months ago. Don’t miss it at all." A third chimed in, "Couldn't happen to a better group of people. I still can't believe they thought that was ok! Boycott Netflix!" And a fourth one retorted, "They’re gonna have a harder time paying for their lawyers without my monthly subscription."

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Back on August 20, Netflix had apologized for its initial advertisements of the film in a statement posted to Twitter. “We're deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Mignonnes/Cuties. It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which won an award at Sundance. We’ve now updated the pictures and description.”


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Last month, the company defended the film saying '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,” Netflix’s September statement said.

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Clearly, the film has been dubbed as one of the most controversial movies of all time. Not only has it cost Netflix its reputation but also millions of subscribers and now, only time will tell if the streaming giant agrees to kick off the movie from its shelf.