Netflix Requests Federal Judge Block ‘Cuties’ Lawsuit
TYLER, Texas — Lawyers for Netflix asked a U.S. District Court for injunctive relief in a lawsuit brought by Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin on Thursday.
Netflix was indicted by Babin in September 2020 for promoting and streaming the controversial French-language film “Cuties” a coming-of-age story and social commentary on the hyper-sexualization of young girls. The movie depicts young girls who are members of a dance troupe in Paris and debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020.
A grand jury returned the indictment under a state law that illegalizes “the lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of an unclothed, partially clothed, or clothed child.” Promotion of lewd visual material depicting a child constitutes a state jail felony in Texas and carries a fine of up to $20,000, according to the penal code.
“As Babin is well-aware, “Cuties” violates no laws: it contains nothing obscene, it contains no scenes of children engaged in ‘sexual conduct,’ it contains no ‘lewd depictions of minors,’” the lawyers for Netflix wrote in the complaint filed Thursday. “Indeed, other prosecutors in Texas have not only refused to take up for his ill-advised indictment[s], they have also conceded that “Cuties” is not criminal but has ‘serious political, literary, and artistic value.’”
Babin dropped the original indictment and brought four new indictments under a different statute in a procedural move on Wednesday. The complaint goes on to assert that each of Babin’s five indictments filed against Netflix violates the company’s First Amendment rights to free speech.
Netflix’s complaint seeks a temporary restraining order and permanent injunctive relief from Babin’s lawsuit. Babin, himself a former actor, is the son of U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, R-Texas.
The film garnered condemnation and criticism from numerous lawmakers for its themes, including former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., among others. In September 2020, 34 members of Congress sent a letter to then-Att. Gen. William Barr recommending charges be brought against Netflix over its distribution of the film.
In a joint letter also sent in September 2020, Ohio Att. Gen. Dave Yost, Florida Att. Gen. Ashley Moody, Louisiana Att. Gen. Jeff Landry and Texas Att. Gen. Ken Paxton called on Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to remove “Cuties” from its streaming service. Shortly after the film’s debut on Netflix, the hashtags #CancelNetflix and #BoycottNetflix were trending across social media and a Change.org petition sprouted up calling for its removal.
“A film that shows girls as young as 11 [years old] engaging in highly sexualized dance routines is inappropriate,” Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., said in a written statement. “I support artistic expression in film but this is exploitative, dangerous and borders on child pornography.”
But the film has also been defended for its commentary on social media’s impact on adolescent users and for being a critique on the sexualization of young children. Critics have given “Cuties” generally favorable reviews and its writer-director Maïmouna Doucouré won an award at Sundance the year it premiered there.
In a written statement, the National Society of Film Critics voiced its support for “Cuties” and characterized the indictment as baseless and an example of political grandstanding.
“The indictment states that “Cuties” has ‘no literary, artistic, political, or scientific value,’ which is legalese for pornography,” NSFC said. “This charge is absurd on its face. “Cuties”, which focuses on the experiences of a young Senegalese girl living in France, is a feminist examination of the oppressive roles available to young girls in the modern world.
“The protagonist, Amy, is torn between a restrictive, traditional Muslim family that demands supplication from women, and a clique of prepubescent dancers, anxious to replicate the hyper-sexualized behavior they see in YouTube videos and club culture.”
The Well News reached out to Netflix and Babin’s office for comment on the matter but has yet to receive a response.
Reece can be reached at [email protected].
In The News
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration changed its rules on who qualifies for student loan forgiveness Thursday as seven states filed... Read More
WASHINGTON — The Biden administration changed its rules on who qualifies for student loan forgiveness Thursday as seven states filed lawsuits to block the plan that would wipe away $10,000 of debt for most borrowers. The states said in their lawsuit the Biden administration's student debt... Read More
NEW YORK — The city of New York will abide by a judge’s order barring enforcement of its COVID-19 vaccine... Read More
NEW YORK — The city of New York will abide by a judge’s order barring enforcement of its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for members of its largest police union while the decision is being appealed. On Friday, Manhattan State Supreme Court Judge Lyle Frank ruled the city... Read More
BOSTON (AP) — Biogen has agreed to pay $900 million to resolve allegations that it violated federal law by paying... Read More
BOSTON (AP) — Biogen has agreed to pay $900 million to resolve allegations that it violated federal law by paying kickbacks to doctors to persuade them to prescribe its multiple sclerosis drugs, federal prosecutors said. The agreement announced Monday settles a whistleblower lawsuit brought by former... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — Stark repudiation by federal judges he appointed. Far-reaching fraud allegations by New York’s attorney general. It's been a week of widening... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — Stark repudiation by federal judges he appointed. Far-reaching fraud allegations by New York’s attorney general. It's been a week of widening legal troubles for Donald Trump, laying bare the challenges piling up as the former president operates without the protections afforded by the White House. The bravado that served... Read More
NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump padded his net worth by billions of dollars and habitually misled banks... Read More
NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump padded his net worth by billions of dollars and habitually misled banks and others about the value of prized assets like golf courses, hotels and his Mar-a-Lago estate, New York’s attorney general said Wednesday in a lawsuit that... Read More
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The state of California is suing Amazon alleging antitrust violations of how the “dominant online retail store... Read More
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The state of California is suing Amazon alleging antitrust violations of how the “dominant online retail store in the United States” takes vengeance on small businesses who attempt to put their products on other websites for cheaper prices, according to the lawsuit. “For... Read More