Representative Jim Banks (R., Ind.) requested that Attorney General William Barr prosecute streaming service Netflix for “child pornography,” in a letter signed by 33 House Republican colleagues and shared with National Review.
Banks’s letter follows Netflix’s debut of the film Cuties, which depicts a group of eleven-year-old girls who join a dance competition and choreograph sexually-suggestive routines.
The Internet Movie Database’s content advisory for the film notes that in one scene, “two little girls physically fight while others cheer and they remove a little girls pants exposing her bottom and tiny underwear – especially troublesome is the camera focuses on her bottom and people take pictures of her bottom.” There are multiple scenes of pre-teen girls dancing, including one in which “two grown men watch a child dance suggestively while other children encourage her.”
“Cuties clearly meets the United States’ legal definition of child pornography,” Banks wrote in the letter to Barr. “The First Amendment protects corporations and individuals from obscenity law if they can prove artistic expression, but this protection rightfully does not apply to child pornography. Cuties is child pornography and its distributors should be prosecuted accordingly.”
The film’s director and defenders have said the movie is intended to critique the sexualization of children. Banks countered, “the reality is that Cuties does depict minors engaged in sexually explicit acts. It’s visual fodder for pedophiles and its message is beside the point.”
Backlash against the film led to calls for Americans to cancel their subscriptions to Netflix, and the company has experienced a surge in cancelations following the film’s debut, according to data company YipitData. The company did not provide exact figures on the number of cancelations, and it’s unclear whether they will seriously dent Netflix’s subscriber base, which rose by almost 26 million in the first six months of 2020.
Cuties was the fourth-most popular film on Netflix as of Tuesday, September 15.