‘Cuties’ is merely ‘misunderstood,’ Netflix co-CEO says, and idea of ‘censoring storytelling’ is ‘surprising’ in 2020 America

‘Cuties’ is merely ‘misunderstood,’ Netflix co-CEO says, and idea of ‘censoring storytelling’ is ‘surprising’ in 2020 America

“It is a film that is very misunderstood with some audiences, uniquely within the United States,”Deadline cited Sarandos as saying Monday at the Mipcom online trade show for entertainment content distributors. “The film speaks for itself.”

The statement marked Sarandos’ first public comments on the controversy since a grand jury in Tyler County, Texas, last month indicted Netflix for promoting “lewd exhibition” of the genitals or pubic area of underage children. The indictment said the material “appeals to the prurient interest in sex and has no serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”

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Netflix said last week that the charge was “without merit” and that “Cuties” was “social commentary against the sexualization of young children.”

But lawmakers called for a federal investigation of whether Netflix violated child pornography laws by distributing the film, and Democrat US Representative Tulsi Gabbard said “Cuties” would “whet the appetite of pedophiles and fuel the child sex-trafficking trade.” Republican Senator from Texas Ted Cruz, meanwhile, has asked US Attorney General to investigate whether Netflix violated federal laws against child pornography. A boycott campaign to cancel Netflix subscriptions erased $8 billion of Netflix’s market value as a publicly traded company in two days.

Sarandos didn’t expect such intense controversy, especially after the film was shown in Europe without much pushback. “It’s a little surprising in 2020 America that we’re having a discussion about censoring storytelling,” he said.

Ironically, Netflix was criticized in August for using a promotional poster that sexualized underage girls in “Cuties,” while the poster used for the film in Europe was relatively innocuous.

The storytelling in “Cuties” included sexualized dance routines by preteen girls and a scene in which a girl pulls down her underwear and takes a picture of her genitals to post online. Other storytelling in the movie includes close-up shots of the girls’ crotches and buttocks, as well as a scene in which they discuss a pornographic video.

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