More US Lawmakers Demand DOJ Investigation Into Netflix Release ‘Cuties’

September 15, 2020 Updated: September 16, 2020

Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.) joined a growing number of lawmakers calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to carry out an investigation into Netflix over the recent release of the controversial film “Cuties” on the video streaming platform.

In a letter (pdf) to the department on Monday, Buck and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) expressed concern over the “potential exploitation of children” in the film, which was released by the streaming service on Sept. 9.

“We join our Congressional colleagues in urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to open an investigation to ensure the film and its production uphold federal laws protecting children from exploitation,” the lawmakers wrote.

Epoch Times Photo
Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) testifies at a House hearing in front of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, in Washington on July 12, 2019. (Charlotte Cuthbertson/The Epoch Times)

The film, titled “Mignonnes” in its original French, centers around an 11-year-old Senegalese immigrant named Amy who lives in Paris and joins a group of dancers called the “Cuties” at school.

According to a description of the film on the Sundance website, Amy and her friends “enthusiastically embrace an increasingly sensual dance routine, sparking the girls’ hope to twerk their way to stardom at a local dance contest.”

The description adds that director Maïmouna Doucouré “focuses tightly on her rowdy protagonists, crafting a spirited film that nimbly depicts the tweens’ youthful energy and vulnerabilities while exploring their fumbling eagerness to be identified as sexualized.”

“Throughout the film, young girls engage in sexually provocative dances, and the film includes at least one scene where a young girl is partially nude. Not only does this raise alarms that these girls may have been exploited in the production of Cuties, but the film also creates an environment where the sexual abuse and exploitation of children by pedophiles is normalized,” Buck and Biggs wrote.

“While the Constitution vigorously protects the freedoms of speech and expression, content that victimizes minors is not among these protected forms of content,” they continued.

The lawmakers in their letter called for a DOJ investigation to ensure the children cast in the film were not exploited or taken advantage of during its production. They said that certain scenes in the film “stimulates the child sex trafficking trade,” such as the “provocative dances” shown throughout “Cuties.”

“The sexualization and gross objectification of these girls on screen creates an environment that is ripe for individuals to take advantage of these innocent children,” they added. “As we have seen all too often, the inherent power structure of film production leaves these girls vulnerable to indecent and potentially abusive treatment.”

Netflix has defended “Cuties” and said that people should watch it before opposing it. In a statement to The Epoch Times last week, a Netflix spokesperson said “Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up.”

“We’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie,” the spokesperson added.

The Epoch Times has reached out to Netflix for comment on Buck’s and Biggs’s joint letter.

Director Maïmouna Doucouré
Director Maïmouna Doucouré attends the “Cuties” premiere during the 2020 Sundance Film Festival at Egyptian Theatre in Park City, Utah, on Jan. 23, 2020. (Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)

Doucouré defended her film this week, saying that it is a social commentary on the treatment of young girls.

“It’s because I saw so many things and so many issues around me lived by young girls, that I decided to make this film and sound an alarm and say we need to protect our children,” Doucouré said at the Toronto Film Festival on French filmmakers. “It’s bold, it’s feminist, but it’s so important and necessary to create debate and try to find solutions, for me as an artist, for politicians and parents. It’s a real issue.”

Last week, Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) announced on Twitter that he was joining Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) in calling on the DOJ to press charges against Netflix for “distribution of child pornography,” amid a “cancel Netflix” backlash against the streaming service.

“As a father of three young daughters, I find ‘Cuties’ sickening,” Banks wrote on Twitter.

Cotton announced on Sept. 12, “Like any parent, I find @netflix decision to peddle child pornography disgusting. And it’s criminal. @TheJusticeDept should take swift action.”

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) last week also called on the department to probe whether the filmmakers “violated any federal laws against the production and distribution of child pornography.”

“[I]t is likely that the filming of this movie created even more explicit and abusive scenes, and that pedophiles across the world in the future will manipulate and imitate this film in abusive ways,” he wrote in a letter (pdf) to Attorney General William Barr.

Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.