Ted Sarandos, Netflix Co-CEO, defends 'Cuties' as 'misunderstood'

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One of Netflix’s top executives said the furor over its release of “Cuties” was “surprising” and called the fuss something unique to America.

Co-CEO Ted Sarandos said Monday at the virtual Mipcom market that Americans are misunderstanding the French film about an 11-year-old group of dancers, which has prompted child-pornography charges against the streaming giant.

“It’s a film that is very misunderstood with some audiences, uniquely within the United States,” he said, according to Deadline.

The Netflix executive noted its French origin and its success at one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals.

“It’s a very personal coming of age film, it’s the director’s story and the film has obviously played very well at Sundance without any of this controversy and played in theaters throughout Europe without any of this controversy,” he said.

Mr. Sarandos concluded that “it’s a little surprising in 2020 America that we’re having a discussion about censoring storytelling.”

An indictment in Tyler County, Texas, which was handed down Sept. 23 but only revealed last week, claims that Netflix, which began streaming the film two weeks earlier, did “knowingly promote visual material which depicts the lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 years of age at the time.”

The indictment goes on to note, relevant to the legal definitions of pornography, that the visual material in “Cuties” appeals to the prurient interest in sex, and has no serious, literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

The French movie depicts a “Mean Girls”-type clique of 11-year-olds, one of the activities of which is a dance troupe.

The climactic scene is a contest for which the protagonist, a Senegalese immigrant, devises a routine that includes group twerks, mouth gestures, ground humping and hip grinding.

Other scenes show them rehearsing the numbers and other sexualized moves that the girls are sometimes depicted as only half-understanding.

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