Republican Sen. Ted Cruz is urging the Justice Department to investigate the Netflix’s new film “Cuties” because of its depiction of minors in numerous sexually suggestive dance numbers and imagery and what he calls “the production and distribution of child pornography.”
“The video streaming service and content-producer Netflix is currently hosting a film entitled ‘Cuties’ that sexualizes young girls, including through dance scenes that stimulate sexual activities and a scene exposing a minor’s bare breast,” Cruz wrote to Attorney General Barr on Saturday.
“I urge the Department of Justice to investigate the production and distribution of this film to determine whether Netflix, its executives, or the individuals involved in the filming and production of ‘Cuties’ violated any federal laws against the production and distribution of child pornography.”
Written and directed by Maïmouna Doucouré and released Sept. 9, “Cuties” is a coming-of-age story about an 11-year-old French and Senegalese girl who encourages her dance troupe to learn new (and sometimes provocative) dance moves in a way that begins to reclaim their femininity.
The film drew criticism even before it arrived on Netflix because of its poster, which critics said sexualized the underage dancers portrayed in the film. The backlash caused the hashtag #CancelNetflix to proliferate Twitter throughout the week, with conservative cultural commentators including Laura Ingraham taking to social media to decry the film, which they say promotes pedophilia and child sex trafficking.
Cruz, who is the latest politician to join the stream of conservative critics of “Cuties,” said he believes the scenes referenced are “in of themselves harmful, and it is likely that the filming of this movie created even more explicit and abusive scenes, and pedophiles across the world in the future will imitate and manipulate this film in abusive ways.”
“In our culture, even today, I can say I’m not totally free,” Doucouré told TheWrap during the Sundance Film Festival in January. “Because I love to wear short dresses and at the same time, when I go to a religious ceremony, I wear a veil. Just choose as a woman: who do you want to be?”
In a statement to TheWrap Sept. 11, Netflix said, “Cuties” is “an award-winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up — and we’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie.”
Doucouré told TheWrap at the Sundance Film Festival in January that her film mirrors her experience as a young girl when she wanted to be a boy because of the “injustices” towards women she saw around her. Watch the full interview below.