More than 30 House Republicans called Thursday on Attorney General William P. Barr to prosecute Netflix executives for airing “Cuties,” a French film about a girls’ dance team that the GOP lawmakers decried as “child pornography.”
Rep. Jim Banks, Indiana Republican, who led the letter signed by 34 House Republicans, said the film featuring four 11-year-old girls who twerk, bump and grind in risqué costumes “meets the legal definition of child pornography.”
“Cuties is child porn and Netflix should be prosecuted for distributing it,” Mr. Banks said in a statement. “The vast majority of Americans agree with me, which is why Netflix’s cancellation rate has skyrocketed.”
The hashtag #CancelNetflix has trended since “Cuties” was released Sept. 9, prompting some customers to drop their subscriptions and calls for former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama to use their influence as Netflix producers to have the film removed.
The streaming service’s cancellation rate was eight times higher as of Sept. 12 than last month’s average daily rate, according to a Tuesday analysis by Variety.
“Americans are shocked to see this foisted on our children, and so are my 33 Republican colleagues who’ve signed this letter,” Mr. Banks said. But no Democrats. They seem more inclined to defend Cuties than criticize it. That raises some alarm bells.”
A few Democrats have condemned the film, notably Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii Democrat, who tweeted that she canceled her Netflix account over “Cuties,” and Christine Pelosi, daughter of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Meanwhile, Rep. Doug Collins, Georgia Republican, asked the Federal Communications Commission in a Thursday letter to ensure that “Cuties” never airs on public broadcasting stations, saying that “such content is inappropriate for public consumption and its widespread dissemination via Netflix will only serve to please pedophiles.”
Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Tom Cotton of Arkansas have also asked the DOJ to intervene, while Netflix has defended the film as a “social commentary against the sexualization of young children.”
The House Republicans were undeterred. “Cuties’ defenders claim that the film intends to criticize the objectification of young girls,” said the letter to Mr. Barr.
“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,” said the letter.
Its defenders note that the movie won the 2020 Sundance Festival award for directing for filmmaker Maimouna Doucoure, and has received mostly positive critical reviews.
“The fact that its critics (not film critics, who love it) find ‘Cuties’ so terrifying is, perhaps, the biggest clue that they need to watch it and then demand more movies like it,” said Washington Post columnist Monica Hesse in a Thursday op-ed.