Texas Grand Jury Indicts Netflix For 'Lewd Exhibition' Of Children In Its Movie 'Cuties'

from the child-beauty-pageants-expected-to-remain-unaffected dept

It seems impossible that 2020 could get any stupider. But here we are, watching in bemusement as a showboating prosecutor talks a grand jury in a tiny Texas county into indicting an online streaming service for… let's check the record… "promotion of lewd visual material depicting child."

Here's "liberty loving conservative" (and state rep) Matt Schaefer's tweet, which contains a snapshot of the indictment.

Here's what the tweet says above the indictment photo:

Netflix, Inc. indicted by grand jury in Tyler Co., Tx for promoting material in Cuties film which depicts lewd exhibition of pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 yrs of age which appeals to the prurient interest in sex

Go ahead and jump to the replies if you enjoy watching a bunch of people who don't understand the First Amendment or state law cheer on this showy act of futility.

The indictment [PDF] states that Netflix broke the law by distributing the film "Cuties" via its streaming service. Jurisdiction is presumably proper because even Tyler County residents can subscribe to the service. If you're not familiar with "Cuties," it's a coming-of-age film dealing with a Sengalese preteen who begins to emulate the sexualization of other females while growing up as a Muslim in Paris, France. It won awards at the Sundance Film Festival and flew under the radar until Netflix began its promotion of the film, which centered on the more questionable depictions of underage girls engaging in hyper-sexualized behavior.

All hell broke loose for a few weeks last month. Calls to boycott Netflix filled social media services and a number of US politicians decided this was the thing they should be spending their time on as thousands died from COVID, businesses closed forever and unemployment remained high.

Here's just some of the legislative-level furor that followed Netflix's release of the film.

Senator Bob Hall (R-Canton) swore to file a bill that would outlaw pedophilia in the state constitution, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton joined two other state attorney generals in a letter asking Netflix to remove the film, and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked U.S. Attorney General William Barr to investigate the company for “the filming of minors engaging in sexually explicit conduct.” State Rep. James White (R-Tyler) likewise wrote Paxton asking for an investigation into the film.

Now that we're all caught up, let's look at the indictment and see if we can find the fatal flaw:

"Knowingly promote[d] 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 visual material was created, which appeals to the prurient interest in sex, and has no serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value…"

Anyone can get an indictment. This much is known about grand juries. But securing a conviction is going to be a hell of a lot more difficult. The prosecutor is going to have to convince a judge (and possibly a jury) that a film that won awards at an international film festival contains no "serious literary or artistic value." That's even harder to argue under the Miller test erected by the Supreme Court, which says the work as a whole has to be considered in terms of artistic merits, not just the cringier parts that prompted backlash all over the internet. That should be enough to nullify the criminal case Tyler County DA Lucas Babin is bringing against Netflix.

There's some pandering going on here, but it originates in the prosecutor's office. This will score points with the kind of people willing to award points for performative wastes of public funds. No one else will be affected. "Cuties" will enjoy another few days of internet infamy, along with its US distributor. But no one's going to jail because Netflix distributed this movie, no matter how much one prosecutor wants it to happen.

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Filed Under: cuties, documentary, indictment, moral panic, texas
Companies: netflix


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2020 @ 10:58am

    Kill section 230, and Social media sites will be facing suites like this being launched every minute of every day.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    James Burkhardt (profile), 7 Oct 2020 @ 11:01am

    The movie strikes me as another Rorschach test, Like Sandman.

    If you saw the film prior to the Netflix ad campaign, you probably saw a film which used imagery disturbing to the average individual to make a point about the effects that sexualization of women in media has on children. You probably perceive that the actual volume of sexualized imagery being employed is minimal in comparison to the run time.

    If you saw the ad campaign first, you probably saw an overly sexual depiction of underage girls far in excess of what was needed to make the point trying to be made. It was smut for pedophiles and nothing more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 2:30am

      Re:

      Points well made.

      The filmmakers apparently made the film precisely to protest hypersexualization of young girls. What we bring away from the experience will be colored by our preunderstanding of it.

      There are several questions this film poses but the one I personally stuck with was this; How can we be shocked, surprised, and outraged that children try to emulate what society keeps telling them are role models?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 2:56am

        Re: Re:

        I've not seen the film, but my understanding is that in context the most explicit scene involves girls doing a totally inappropriate dance, and the point of the scene is the horrified reaction from the audience who then try to demand why and how the girls came up with the dance. I'm led to believe it's similar to the ending of Little Miss Sunshine, although obvious made a little differently from the French perspective. From what I've heard from reliable sources (read: people who watch such movies and understand cultural differences in the country where it was made) it's a direct criticism of such things, but people watching edited out of context footage wouldn't know that.

        Netflix fucked up royally with their campaign that made the film look like something other than what it was, which then brought the film to the attention of people who would never have watched a French arthouse movie. But, the film itself isn't what some people seem to think it was, which is why it generated zero controversy before its Netflix US debut.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 9 Oct 2020 @ 12:56am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "...my understanding is that in context the most explicit scene involves girls doing a totally inappropriate dance, and the point of the scene is the horrified reaction from the audience who then try to demand why and how the girls came up with the dance."

          More or less, yes. Like so very many french arthouse films this one is, as you note, a criticism of the hypersexualization of teens who then become role models for even younger girls.

          "Netflix fucked up royally with their campaign that made the film look like something other than what it was, which then brought the film to the attention of people who would never have watched a French arthouse movie."

          And the french directors could have started the film with a few lines of text regarding it's intended use as criticism and the film would instead be front-page material for the very people currently squawking the loudest in outrage.

          The film isn't exactly my cup of tea as I prefer a more documentary format rather than a narrative-less story, but this is the way european artists have tried to get debates about societal flaws going for centuries. I can understand the filmmakers didn't dumb the movie down for the sake of US puritans unable to read a message unless it's crayoned onto their breakfast cereal boxes.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 9 Oct 2020 @ 1:25am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "And the french directors could have started the film with a few lines of text "

            It's not the director's responsibility to mollycoddle the audience, especially not when there was zero controversy surrounding the film before Netflix bungled the marketing strategy. Not an eyebrow was raised during the film's theatrical run in France a month before the international Netflix release.

            "the film would instead be front-page material for the very people currently squawking the loudest in outrage"

            No it wouldn't. None of those idiots would ever have noticed the film if it weren't for a misjudged poster image being broadcast under the Netflix Original banner. Now that they have noticed it, most of them are basing their opinion on the poster and edited out of context footage, not the film itself. A text crawl wouldn't change any of that.

            "I can understand the filmmakers didn't dumb the movie down for the sake of US puritans"

            I know it's hard to believe for some people, but not every film is made for Americans. It's an independent French film that happened to be distributed in the US after it was completed and released in France. What the pearl clutching crowd in Trumpland want should be irrelevant to the filmmaker.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 12 Oct 2020 @ 6:24am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "It's not the director's responsibility to mollycoddle the audience, especially not when there was zero controversy surrounding the film before Netflix bungled the marketing strategy."

              It's a tradeoff, I guess. If I had reason to suspect a few lines of text might not set off the Doom Cult Taliban I might add them just because. Same reason I wouldn't dangle a string of raw bacon out the window while going through the lion park of the drive-through safari. I could argue it's not my responsibility that a horde of religious zealots eager to see filth everywhere outside their own homes will be set off by whatever catches their interest, but at the end of the day my free speech - in this hypothetical, that movie - has consequences.

              "Not an eyebrow was raised during the film's theatrical run in France..."

              Let me stop you right there. As a fellow european I'd have to start by saying that any film coming from the french arthouse would have to be way out there before eyebrows were raised in europe. Let's face it, french artists have a very long history of trying to provoke controversy and by now we're more or less on to them about that. "Mignons" - or "Cuties" isn't one of those controversies, but I'd argue that almost any french movie launched as artistic expression would send a solid third of the US into a dead faint, pearls clutched in a white-knuckled dead man's grip, after a shrill, outraged squawk.

              "A text crawl wouldn't change any of that."

              You may be right. Apparently half of US adults can't actually read a book at the 8th grade level. Google "wylie us literacy rate" for a most disheartening little perusal on the state of that union.

              It's terrifying to think that roughly 70% of americans are at adult literacy level 2-3. A significant proportion of them wouldn't be able to read that text strip in the first place.

              "What the pearl clutching crowd in Trumpland want should be irrelevant to the filmmaker."

              It probably is. I doubt Ms. Doucoré has much skin in the US reception, the film apparently being a reflection of her own experience growing up in France as the child of refugees.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 12 Oct 2020 @ 11:55pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "If I had reason to suspect a few lines of text might not set off the Doom Cult Taliban I might add them just because"

                It's a French film made for a French audience by a French director, and the film generated zero controversy in France. That a misjudged ad campaign generated controversy on another continent after the film was sold to a company for non-French distribution is not something the director should be worried about. They certainly shouldn't be changing their artistic vision for that.

                "Let me stop you right there."

                Well, you didn't refute what I said.

                "Apparently half of US adults can't actually read a book at the 8th grade level"

                It doesn't matter because almost nobody braying about the film has actually seen it, so they will never see something to read, and the others are cherry-picking things out of context so would ignore such text.

                "I doubt Ms. Doucoré has much skin in the US reception"

                Well, she's certainly had more press than she ever would have done under normal circumstances. I hope this translates into more people willing to finance her next project, rather than less.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • icon
                  Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 13 Oct 2020 @ 7:40am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  "It's a French film made for a French audience by a French director, and the film generated zero controversy in France."

                  I have to be honest here...what, honestly, would generate controversy in France when it comes to art? It's a bit like asking what sort of "wet" would bother fish.

                  "Well, you didn't refute what I said."

                  True enough. You were preaching to the choir there and i merely saw fit to enlighten you which hymn sheet I was on.

                  "It doesn't matter because almost nobody braying about the film has actually seen it, so they will never see something to read, and the others are cherry-picking things out of context so would ignore such text."

                  ...and even if they pass both those hurdles they still have the old entartete kunst to fall back on, I know. It's Richelieu's old line about how you'll never want of a good accusation if you have someone you want to blame.

                  "I hope this translates into more people willing to finance her next project, rather than less."

                  "She upset the americans? Mon Dieu! Please pass unto mademoiselle Doucoré these gagging bagfuls of le money that she may make more art such as this! Please to ask her if she can put in her next film a parody of le Fuckface von Clownstick?"

                  ...is what I'm guessing her harvest among the french art community will be.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                  • icon
                    PaulT (profile), 13 Oct 2020 @ 8:16am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    "I have to be honest here...what, honestly, would generate controversy in France when it comes to art?"

                    From the top of my head, Baise-Moi and Antichrist were quite controversial there. But, these are films that are made with the intention of causing controversy.

                    "...is what I'm guessing her harvest among the french art community will be."

                    We'll see. She's not a deliberate provocateur along the lines of Gaspar Noe or Lars Von Trier, so she could fall between the cracks of being too controversial for some mainstream producers but not controversial enough for the enfant terrible supporters.

                    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 12 Oct 2020 @ 1:09pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "And the french directors could have started the film with a few lines of text regarding it's intended use as criticism and the film would instead be front-page material for the very people currently squawking the loudest in outrage."

            Indeed, it would instead have generated outrage about how "Woke PC culture" is trying to "cancel" kids having "harmless fun".

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 13 Oct 2020 @ 12:15am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "Indeed, it would instead have generated outrage about how "Woke PC culture" is trying to "cancel" kids having "harmless fun"."

              Again, no it wouldn't. Few of the outraged people are basing their opinions on the film itself, and the ones who are have shown themselves to be intent on removing context. So, the text giving them complete context would be the first to be ignored.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Koby (profile), 7 Oct 2020 @ 11:06am

    Zoom

    I hear they zoomed in on the crotch area during some dance scenes. It wasn't done for the art, it was done for the pesos. Ick.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2020 @ 11:09am

      Re: Zoom

      All that being true, this case is just conservative virtue signalling.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      crade (profile), 7 Oct 2020 @ 11:30am

      Re: Re: Zoom

      I haven't seen the show but I hear covid is a myth

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Baron von Robber, 7 Oct 2020 @ 11:35am

      Re: Zoom

      I heard they hid kids in the basement of a pizza parlor too! Are you Qless?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Glen, 7 Oct 2020 @ 11:55am

      Re: Zoom

      So you haven't actually watched the show yourself but still had to comment on it? How very "Koby" of you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Koby (profile), 7 Oct 2020 @ 2:20pm

        Re: Re: Zoom

        Nowadays, there are many reviews and write ups about movies and entertainment. You don't need to spend money to know what's going on.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Baron von Robber, 7 Oct 2020 @ 2:22pm

          Re: Re: Re: Zoom

          Did you write book reports for school the same way?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 12:21am

          Re: Re: Re: Zoom

          In other words "I'm being told by my right-wing echo chamber what to think". Very typical of you, Koby.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            crade (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 7:46am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Zoom

            Independently verifying stuff just means you need to make up some excuse about rhetorical hyperbole or how the differences are just "technicalities" to avoid admitting to yourself you were wrong

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          crade (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 7:40am

          Re: Re: Re: Zoom

          There are many reviews and writeups about movies and entertainment (and everything else) that people post on the internet that are full of shit.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 12 Oct 2020 @ 1:12pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Zoom

            I heard on the internet that Grand Theft Auto is a game where you score points by running over prostitutes.

            People will say all sorts of shit when "reviewing" stuff they've never actually personally experienced.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Uriel-238 (profile), 12 Oct 2020 @ 1:54pm

              GTA 3

              In GTA 3 one gets a hit-point bonus by picking up a street-walker, driving to a secluded spot and waiting for the car to stop bouncing. She charges by the second (I think a dollar a second) so it's usually a good idea to get to the private spot quickly.

              If you peeked at the look-back view during the bouncing Claude (the player) and his lady-of-the-evening are sitting in their respective bucket seats while the car bounces, spoiling the implication.

              Doing the bit in a convertible skips over the bouncing-car animation, give the bonus instantly, and ends the timed charge. It's the most efficient way to get the whore bonus.

              Some players discovered Claude could kill the prostitute and get their money back. In fact Claude can kill any bystander in the game who will drop whatever money is in their pockets. I suppose this counts as scoring points. But it's not a lot of points. It's three digits in dollars, where Claude is working towards seven to eight digits. So prostitute-hunting is not the best use of time.

              Also if you run someone over, you have to stop and get out of the car to pick up the money. Though the game keeps track of how many people you kill by what means. That's also technically keeping score in a GlaDOS sort of way. (GlaDOS counts how many steps you take and how long you spend taking them.)

              Also if the police see Claude on a murder spree (whether he's killing prostitutes or mobsters) he'll quickly rack up levels of notoriety, which will escalate how much heat the police sends.

              In later games (Vice City, San Andreas), the player is using his vast savings to purchase properties. By San Andreas CJ (the player) has girlfriends who notoriously get lonely quickly. CJ can still get a lapdance, not for a health boost. And he can pick up prostitutes, but I don't think it's for a health boost anymore. He can pick up a Pimp achievement though. And health is restored by eating instead of power-ups.

              There was also a disabled sex-with-girlfriend minigame that was re-enabled with the Hot Coffee mod, which caused the United States to freak out far more than they are doing over Cuties. There were big lawsuits and lots of press about it and everything. Eventually Rockstar did a second release that was Hot-Coffee-eradicated so as to not befoul the innocence of... <Checking: Rated M> 17-year-olds who are instead gunning down people in gang wars and getting lapdances when they feel like it.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 13 Oct 2020 @ 12:20am

                Re: GTA 3

                "There was also a disabled sex-with-girlfriend minigame that was re-enabled with the Hot Coffee mod, which caused the United States to freak out far more than they are doing over Cuties."

                This worth remembering. The Hot Coffee outrage was over something that the developers had cut from the game, and was only unlocked by a method that would have allowed anyone to insert any content they wanted without the knowledge of the developers.

                "<Checking: Rated M> 17-year-olds"

                Yeah...not really. Most of the outrage was from parents who were ignoring the age rating, then were shocked that the adult rated content they bought for their 12 year old actually contained adult themes. As usual, the anger was to cover for their own bad parenting. Although, the fact that they have no issue with random, brutal violence but had a fit over mild consensual sex that wasn't even in the actual game is telling of the mindset over there.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 12 Oct 2020 @ 6:25am

          Re: Re: Re: Zoom

          "Nowadays, there are many reviews and write ups about movies and entertainment."

          And yet you didn't even read a single one of them before pitching your two cents in. Remarkable.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2020 @ 2:48pm

      Re: Zoom

      "I hear they "

      From where? The street corner or a reputable outfit?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 12:20am

      Re: Zoom

      "it was done for the pesos"

      No, it was made in France, so it was Euros...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 9 Oct 2020 @ 1:25am

      Re: Zoom

      "It wasn't done for the art, it was done for the pesos. Ick."

      Do yourself a favor and google the filmmaker - who wrote the script based on her own growing-up experiences.

      In europe everyone realizes the film is a criticism of existing hypersexualization of young women who then turn into role model for young girls left to try to make their own sense of the world given the only real model of what a woman should be has become teen-pop "sex sells" idols.

      Take one brief look at the various beauty pageants or teen music competitions and tell me how this affects young people looking for role models. Even or especially in the US. Go after those rather than the movies documenting the toxic effects, hmm?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 7 Oct 2020 @ 11:08am

    Remember the game 'Telephone" where you would whisper something to someone and by the time it made it around the group the original statement was lost?
    This is how information about this movie is spreading.
    I read one of the purity fighters who frame by frame watched the alleged cp (such dedication to expose themselves to it for so long over & over) compiled a list of horrible things.

    Pants were pulled down & underwear was seen!!!!!!
    Actual scene - girls in a fight, one grabs the others legs to drag her & her pants slide down. Her underwear covered ass is seen for less than 4 seconds. It wasn't a thong.

    I think it says a lot about people who are basing their criticism & claims on what they heard someone thinks they saw when principal skinner & mrs kerbopple were in the coast closet making babies and one of the babies winked at them.

    Netflix screwed up the marketing but the insane hysteria over a film is really silly.
    Imaginary children were exploited!!!
    Actual real children we are keeping in cages are being sexually abused by other detainees and guards... crickets.

    We care more that someone might see this movie & rub one out while ACTUAL CHILDREN ARE BEING RAPED IN OUR NAMES.

    But tell me again how this isn't just grandstanding for people who didn't think the world suck enough already so we needed to imagine child pron around every corner.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    OldMugwump (profile), 7 Oct 2020 @ 11:14am

    ...also, they indicted a ham sandwich

    I saw the film. It's not porno, not prurient, not sexy. At all.

    It's about foolish children pretending to be older than they are, for all the wrong reasons.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2020 @ 12:38pm

      Re: ...also, they indicted a ham sandwich

      The ham is guilty, but I hear they let the lettuce off with a warning.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 2:48am

      Re: ...also, they indicted a ham sandwich

      "It's about foolish children pretending to be older than they are, for all the wrong reasons."

      Yep. Society tells them "This is how you should dress up to be cool, like all the adults" so a bunch of twelve-year olds try to emulate the 18 year olds.

      That's not exactly new. What is new about it would be the moral outrage over what might as well be a documentary while conspicuous silence reigns about the reason why the female teen idol needs to be sex appeal personified.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 9:44am

      Re: ...also, they indicted a ham sandwich

      ^^^^^ This.

      The director made the film to make a point about how society screws young girls up.
      But in the current Q influenced world, everyone is raping babies & this movie only exists so pedophiles can masturbate to it & maybe do other bad things.

      Netflix screwed up the promotional materials & if I hear anyone screaming about they were twerking!!!!!!!! I might vomit.

      We have girls under 10 made up like pedophile fantasies holding events for crowns & such... silence.
      Humans have such short memories, JonBenet after her death the 'zomg it was pedophiles!!!' & 'How dare they make her look sexy!!' lead to moral crusaders... who sit at home watching Toddlers and Tiaras today.

      People sit back without knowing the facts, & ride that assumption train & demand someone do something for the children!!!

      Pedophiles might fap to it!!
      Gays marrying will hurt my marriage!
      Bitch, I'm on a diet... so no fucking cookies for anyone.

      This could be a great movie that shows realistically what society is putting girls through, but we mustn't look at it... because someone imagines some possible bad outcome.
      But then me having the right to marry the man I love was billed as being the first step to people marrying animals... perhaps operating from imagined fear is a bad way to live.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        OldMugwump (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 3:26pm

        Re: Re: ...also, they indicted a ham sandwich

        What's wrong with people marrying animals?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 4:09pm

          Marrying animals.

          A cat or dog or sheep is incapable of willfully entering a contract, which a marriage is. (Some people make exceptions for children who are also incapable of understanding and willfully entering a contract. We marry them anyway.)

          If you engineered a super-smart cat so that he (she) was able to understand a contract and consent, there'd be no ethical reason to forbid marrying one. The same with other intelligent species who can understand how contracts work.

          That said, the same goes for sufficiently advanced artificial general intelligence.

          IRL, cats, dogs and sheep and AGI are not legal persons (members of the moral community) even when they are intelligent. And we have no means to determine when one intelligent enough to enter a contract.

          You're not supposed to be able to marry children (who are persons) and most nations have laws to make it difficult but not impossible. We get around those frequently.

          We can grant personhood on a case-by-case basis, by fiat. I think this means you can marry Sophia, the robot granted personhood by Saudi Arabia, though I'm not sure if you could get married to Sophia in Saudi Arabia.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            OldMugwump (profile), 9 Oct 2020 @ 8:49am

            Re: Marrying animals.

            So it's OK to kill and eat a pig, but not to marry it?

            So it's OK to have sex with a pig, but not to marry it?

            I think "marrying animals" is illegal because most people (incl. me, BTW) think the idea is disgusting, not because we care about the animals. (PETA excepted, of course).

            But there are lots of things I think are disgusting (guacamole, for example) that I don't think should be illegal. The only legitimate reason to make something illegal is to protect innocent people.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 9 Oct 2020 @ 9:41am

              Re: Re: Marrying animals.

              "So it's OK to have sex with a pig, but not to marry it?"

              Erm, you might not be making the point you think you are here...

              "The only legitimate reason to make something illegal is to protect innocent people."

              Yes, and consent is a big part of that. Guess what children and animals can't legally do?

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            • icon
              Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 12 Oct 2020 @ 6:37am

              Re: Re: Marrying animals.

              "I think "marrying animals" is illegal because most people (incl. me, BTW) think the idea is disgusting, not because we care about the animals. (PETA excepted, of course)."

              Actually, the root of the legal status of both sex and marriage is consent. Hence why there's a problem involving anyone who can not give consent in this.

              "Murder" however, is defined by human rights, making it reliant on the species barrier instead.
              Which is going to bring no end of problems when some redneck kills and eats the first alien to make first contact, no doubt.

              "But there are lots of things I think are disgusting (guacamole, for example) that I don't think should be illegal."

              The correct terminology of non-judgmental repulsion is "squick" I understand.

              "The only legitimate reason to make something illegal is to protect innocent people."

              And a lot of times not even that, or we'd have a very good case for outlawing every power tool and kitchen appliance in the book. In an age of overlexification it's akin to blasphemy to suggest every issue or problem shouldn't just be solved with a quick-patch law.

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              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 12 Oct 2020 @ 6:40am

                Re: Re: Re: Marrying animals.

                [Addendum]:

                Also, OldMugwump, think this through twice for a second - would you really want an exception written in law where consent was not required for any reason when it came to marriage and sex?

                It's not an area of law I'd be comfortable tinkering with, to be honest.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 16 Oct 2020 @ 6:52pm

              Re: Re: Marrying animals.

              Don't worry.

              The Tumblr activists and therianthropists are working on it.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 9 Oct 2020 @ 2:56am

          Re: Re: Re: ...also, they indicted a ham sandwich

          "What's wrong with people marrying animals?"

          I'm sure the PETA have a good argument for that.

          However, whether they do or not it remains that bigots are unable to muster tolerance over the mere existence of a mindset other than their own. It's not hard to tell why when many studies have shown a direct correlation between acute failure of imagination and bigotry; If you yourself have no imagination, anything anyone else thinks of must be something they plot to do in reality.

          It's insane, really. Horror movies are incredibly popular and yet I'm fairly sure no one would want to get stalked by a xenomorph or Freddy Kruefer in real life. Most porn has proven an abysmally bad fit for real-life sexual experiences. No one really wants to meet Dr. Lecter.

          And yet the bigot believes, fully, that the existence of a different mindset or imagination must take place in their immediate vicinity. The homophobe fears, deep down, that the existence of gay marriage might force them to marry other peoploe of the same gender. The pedo wanking off to pageant pictures will go out and ravage their own children. The misogynist fears a future where he is subjugated, emasculated and enslaved - and the misandrist assumes the same.

          It's ironic. A significant part of the US citizenry is so steeped in phantom fears they're completely unable to assess genuine risk.

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    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 2:34pm

      "foolish children pretending to be older than they are"

      The whole system promotes that. We play Mozart at babies hoping to get them to walk, talk and potty train faster, to get into kindergarten a year early.

      I was mocked for my credulity for believing teachers and parents while I was in my single digits. That was in the seventies.

      We complain about kids' ignorance when they fail to learn things we like. We complain about their loss of innocence when they learn things we don't like.

      Everything around them is driving them to grow up faster.

      And then we have gazillions of advertising campaigns (fashion, candy, cars, beauty, movies, etc. etc.) that sexualize underage women on television, that are telling the adults of society, they should be fucking those models, and there's something wrong with them if that little girl isn't their girlfriend.

      So you know what, the society bought this ticket. It chose to ride this train.

      The movie calls it out and pearls are clutched? I call shenanigans. Especially in Texas, in which child beauty pagents are part of the culture. (And yes, contestants thirteen and above bang the contestants to get extra points.)

      It all smacks of the Satanic panic. Suzie got sexually assaulted, but it can't be by Mommy's nice boyfriend, so it has to be strangers. Satanist strangers.

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      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 2:36pm

        Posting before coffee

        And yes, contestants thirteen and above bang the judges to get extra points.

        Though I can imagine the judges trying to get multiple contestants to make out with each other for jollies.

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      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 9 Oct 2020 @ 3:16am

        Re: "foolish children pretending to be older than they are"

        "It all smacks of the Satanic panic. Suzie got sexually assaulted, but it can't be by Mommy's nice boyfriend, so it has to be strangers. Satanist strangers."

        Naturally. No mom wants to realize she's banging the pedo assaulting her daughter so she more or less has to make herself not realize this. Nor does the "good community" want to know good old Uncle Frank is the reason all the children are so afraid. It has to be a stranger. Naturally anyone so evil as to assault a child is beyond the pale so it might as well be a satanist stranger. Or a drug-dealer. Or possibly Hillary, dwelling in a pizza parlor basement with her good buddies Epstein and Stalin, depending on how far the denialist rabbit hole you go.

        A denialist hellhole shared with the actual victims who not rarely shield themselves from the horrific things done to them by people they feel they should trust by pretending it's someone and something else. "Uncle Vampire" is a book which has you throwing up in your mouth a little, but is, unfortunately, not a depiction of reality as rare as you'd probably like.

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  • icon
    John85851 (profile), 7 Oct 2020 @ 11:28am

    Suing Netflix certainly is convenient

    So they're suing Netflix because Netflix is the US distributor, rather than suing the director or producer or studio?
    I guess it's a little more convenient to sue the distributor than the people who actually make the "questionable material".

    But like other posters are saying, did anyone in the Texas "justice system" even watch the movie? Or more to the point, did they only watch for the "naughty bits" instead of seeing those bits as part of a larger story that shows the experiences of preteen girls?

    Sadly, it would not surprise me if this lawsuit got traction and the prosecutor was able to convince a jury that "these kinds of movies" are being shown "to your children!!!" on Netflix.

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    • identicon
      Baron von Robber, 7 Oct 2020 @ 11:37am

      Re: Suing Netflix certainly is convenient

      Which kind of shows how stupid they are.
      Who has the funding to litigate this to death? Director/producers/studio or Netflix?

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    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 7 Oct 2020 @ 12:15pm

      Re: Suing Netflix certainly is convenient

      Its an indictment, meaning criminal charges, not a lawsuit. This is not an issue of suing netflix because they are easy to track down and have a bigger bank account. (the general meaning of easier to sue X company instead of Y individual(s) actually responsible)

      Distribution would be a crime under these legal theories, a crime separate from the crime of production of the film. This is not holding the distributor liable for production, this is holding the distributor liable for distribution. This is not an issue of improperly placed liability at all.

      The producer is french. It was produced outside the US. No crime of US jurisdiction occurred in production. There are no grounds for a US indictment of the production even if the legal theories held water.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 Oct 2020 @ 12:45pm

        Interesting.

        Distribution would be a crime under these legal theories, a crime separate from the crime of production of the film.

        Were these state sex trafficking laws that would invoke FOSTA?
        If not, doesn't section 230 have something to say? This is, after all, state court, not federal.

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        • icon
          James Burkhardt (profile), 7 Oct 2020 @ 1:22pm

          Re: Interesting.

          Fosta likely wont be involved, because they aren't going after sex trafiicking content at all. Nor are they dealing with a third party host of such material.

          And because they are going after the actual publisher, Netflix, and not going after a host of User generated content for content published by its users, section 230 doesn't apply. Section 230 only applies to content created and uploaded by users. Netflix does not host USG, and even if it did, Cuties and the promotion thereof are content where Netflix is the publisher of record.

          As I noted before, this is not a question of assignment of liability. If liability exists under the laws cited, Netflix is an appropriate target of the charge, based on the quotes provided within the techdirt article.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Nathan F (profile), 7 Oct 2020 @ 12:56pm

      Re: Suing Netflix certainly is convenient

      But like other posters are saying, did anyone in the Texas "justice system" even watch the movie? Or more to the point, did they only watch for the "naughty bits" instead of seeing those bits as part of a larger story that shows the experiences of preteen girls?

      They proably pixalated the scene in question so the Grand Juries imagination had to be engaged and people almost always imagine something is worse then it actually is.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 12:22am

      Re: Suing Netflix certainly is convenient

      "But like other posters are saying, did anyone in the Texas "justice system" even watch the movie?"

      My guess is that they pulled the same crap that was pulled during the video nasties era in the UK - take the worst looking scenes, display them out of context and not allow any context to be introduced.

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    • identicon
      Sharur, 8 Oct 2020 @ 8:51am

      Re: Suing Netflix certainly is convenient

      Devil's Advocate: They don't have jurisdiction on the creation/filming/production, as presumably that was done in France, by French citizens, but do have jurisdiction on US-side distribution, which is done by Netflix?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Oct 2020 @ 9:13am

      Re: Suing Netflix certainly is convenient

      Most US lawsuits are directed at those with the deepest pockets and easiest to prosecute. It's the reason why Twitter / Facebook / YouTube / etc. are sued for promoting or supporting terrorism / bullying / cyberstalking / etc. it's far easier and more profitable to sue the company with the post on it, than it is to find, sue, and exact your vengance on the actual poster.

      Simply stated, the general public in the US doesn't care about who is punished, as long as suffering actually occurs.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 7 Oct 2020 @ 11:30am

    Learning from History

    I wonder if this indictment will have the same effect for the movie as the old "banned in Boston" did for book sellers in the 1960's??

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  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 7 Oct 2020 @ 11:37am

    Low Hanging Fruit

    Calls to boycott Netflix filled social media services and a number of US politicians decided this was the thing they should be spending their time on as thousands died from COVID, businesses closed forever and unemployment remained high.

    While being told we live in a continuous epidemic of gang shootouts and robberies, our law enforcement are raiding civilian places (busting them up and shooting dogs) for less than an ounce of contraband or a expired barbershop license. Rather than addressing our real epidemic of domestic violence (our primary source of homicides) they're out writing citations for littering and loitering, and then occasionally shooting someone that displeases them so.

    It's the low hanging fruit side of the get home safely philosophy of policing in the United States. They wait for violent incidents to burn out and go after petty infractions with a vengeance. Thank you for not smoking.

    Well it seems our folks in congress have resorted to the low hanging fruit of pearl clutching at misunderstood movies (they haven't watched) and social media censorship (they don't want to admit has valid roots). Our elected representatives are also looking to low hanging fruit in order to claim they're doing work, putting out [metaphoric] grill fires while skyscrapers burn.

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    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 9 Oct 2020 @ 3:20am

      Re: Low Hanging Fruit

      "Our elected representatives are also looking to low hanging fruit in order to claim they're doing work, putting out [metaphoric] grill fires while skyscrapers burn."

      Naturally. If the guardsman sees his own family making off with the jewels he's supposed to guard he'll be way better off putting up an empty cookie jar, make a lot of noise, and claim he was investigating the stolen cookies rather than just turning a blind eye to Uncle Frank walking off with the national treasures.

      This, in a nutshell, describes politics very well in nations teetering on the brink of legitimacy.

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  • icon
    ECA (profile), 7 Oct 2020 @ 12:01pm

    Went thru this before.

    Puritanical(if they followed these old rules, you would be married at 13-15)
    Christian(they think, they know)
    Zealots(more who think they know)
    Anti human(they all want us to be Angels.)
    Those that wish to forget they were Teens, and running around Horny 90% of the time.
    We are better then everyone else, because we ??(what?) Sounds familiar?(and we hate Muslims for what reasons?)
    Pharisees all.

    Considering all the laws we have already based on this.
    Considering EACH of those persons had to be over 16 to sign a contract, and knew what was coming and happening.
    Considering laws SHOULD be created by the people, and not in the middle of the night by politicians and Zealots.
    This might as well be an anti abortion law.

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  • identicon
    Rekrul, 7 Oct 2020 @ 1:07pm

    A bunch of YouTubers made videos ranting about how sick and disgusting the movie was and some of them even made a big show about they couldn't include any scenes from the movie to illustrate how bad it was because they didn't want "the FBI to bust down my door for showing child porn!" They would call for people to cancel Netflix and a lot of the people in the comments said that they did.

    I posted comments on many of these videos pointing out that YouTube, the very platform that they were using to express the opinion that Netflix deserved to die for hosting this film, allowed people to rent the 1978 movie Pretty Baby, with a fully nude 12 year old Brooke Shields playing a child prostitute. Strangely almost nobody replied to these messages and a couple got deleted. Of the replies I did get, people argued that it was completely different because YouTube wasn't promoting Pretty Baby the way Netflix was promoting Cuties.

    Personally, I think it was more about generating clicks/views for their videos than any real outrage over the film itself.

    Anyone remember the controversy from a few years ago over a video of young girls in skimpy costumes dancing to the song Single Ladies at a competition? Those videos, and others like them are still online. How many people went to jail over those? (I'll give you a hint: none)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 7 Oct 2020 @ 8:57pm

      Re:

      Personally, I think it was more about generating clicks/views for their videos than any real outrage over the film itself.

      'Here's a film that has young girls acting well past their age due to copying what they see as 'sexy' in adults, but there's nothing explicit unless you've got a really dirty mind.'

      'Burn it to the ground!'

      'Here's a film with a literal naked child, playing a child prostitute.'

      'Well... I mean... that's different...'

      Yeah, I think you might be on to something with the idea that the outrage is primarily to get attention/clicks.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 12:27am

      Re:

      The problem is that the controversy has nothing to do with the content of the film itself, but rather a reaction to a misjudged marketing campaign, one that made people who would never normally think of watching a French arthouse movie lose their crap over what they imagined would be in it.

      "they couldn't include any scenes from the movie to illustrate how bad it was"

      Huh. Almost as if they haven't really watched it, but need to jump on the outrage bandwagon because of what they were told was in it...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Rekrul, 8 Oct 2020 @ 5:42pm

        Re: Re:

        The problem is that the controversy has nothing to do with the content of the film itself, but rather a reaction to a misjudged marketing campaign, one that made people who would never normally think of watching a French arthouse movie lose their crap over what they imagined would be in it.

        To be fair, a couple of them did point out scenes where the girls are shown to hump the floor as part of a dance and in one scene, they're dancing on some stairs and one girl lifts her leg while wearing shorts and basically aims her crotch right at the camera. Still, from a quick skimming of the movie (it's not really the kind of film I'd be interested in, regardless of the controversy), it seems that those scenes make up a fairly small percentage of the movie.

        Many of the critics also took exception to a scene where the main character takes a photo of her privates and posts it on the net (obviously not shown in any explicit detail).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 6:28pm

          Posting on the internet

          Yeah, teens in the US are sexting like crazy, because they have smartphones and of course they are. And most states are doubling down on busting the kids for dissemination of child porn.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 11:22pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "To be fair, a couple of them did point out scenes"

          Did they point them out in context as they were intended to be shown in the movie? Or, did they present them out of context in order to get a raged reaction from the audience they were talking to?

          "Many of the critics also took exception to a scene where the main character takes a photo of her privates and posts it on the net (obviously not shown in any explicit detail)."

          Then... so what? If it's not in detail then it's part of a drama which is relating to things that happen in real life. Have we really reached a point where something offensive being suggested as part of a drama is now worth a raged reaction? Or, are these people so weak willed that they can't have a story address real life issues?

          I think that's the real problem. Some people are so stupid and weak that any fiction that addresses real life is now offensive to them. Especially since filmmakers in the country the film was made for, and screened without controversy, have no qualms about dealing with real life problems.

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          • identicon
            Rekrul, 9 Oct 2020 @ 12:18pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Did they point them out in context as they were intended to be shown in the movie?

            Of course not.

            Then... so what? If it's not in detail then it's part of a drama which is relating to things that happen in real life. Have we really reached a point where something offensive being suggested as part of a drama is now worth a raged reaction? Or, are these people so weak willed that they can't have a story address real life issues?

            Pretty much.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 9 Oct 2020 @ 11:26pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              "Pretty much."

              You're probably right, but a cinema so censored that you can't even mention certain themes without being treated as if you're doing the acts yourself is not a cinema I wish to be view.

              Fortunately, the French don't tend to give 2 shits what Hollywood thinks, and while it's great that Netflix are supporting independent and international cinema, they have many competitors not frequented by the mainstream who would distribute it without attracting such controversy. If MUBI or Criterion had picked up the US rights, it's unlikely the QAnon crowd would have heard of it, or cared to the degree they do when they see it while lazily browsing Netflix.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 12 Oct 2020 @ 6:43am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                "Fortunately, the French don't tend to give 2 shits what Hollywood thinks..."

                That's not quite right. Ms. Doucoré should have her career made in France, after this.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 7 Oct 2020 @ 1:20pm

    Uh, a jury will get involved.

    "Knowingly promote[d] 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 visual material was created, which appeals to the prurient interest in sex, and has no serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value…"

    This is a country founded by Puritans. Everything appeals to their prurient interest in sex. Serious literary value is provided by the Bible and prayer books. Artistic value by hymn singing. Political value by tea party et al. Scientific value by Bible exegesis, if it doesn't take too much liberties. WHAT DID I HEAR THERE? LIBERALS? WHERE IS MY GUN?!?

    Sorry, just got distracted. Don't underestimate the trouble Netflix is in.

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  • identicon
    Glenn, 7 Oct 2020 @ 3:01pm

    Clearly, those pushing for indictment were the ones who were sexually aroused.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Bloof (profile), 7 Oct 2020 @ 3:49pm

    I'm sure a statewide ban on the actual child beauty pageants is soon to follow, right?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Everett E. Time, 7 Oct 2020 @ 8:47pm

    Every time Techdirt can promote / defend / child porn, it DOES.

    I refer regulars (and there are still NO newbies) here, to the many pieces complaining that actual downloaders of child porn weren't let off on a mere Court Rule that needed changed, and was. At least 5 appeals levels decisions, yet Maz KEPT advocating they be let off.

    Masnick has a mania that doesn't include protecting children. -- If LOOKS like "child porn" (and it does merely from the premise), then WHY do you even defend it? -- You can't even keep quiet, but have to advocate!

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    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 12:23am

      Re: Every time Techdirt can promote / defend / child porn, it DO

      "I refer...to the many pieces"

      Strange, then, that you don't link to any of them. Almost as if you're lying about what was said...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Oct 2020 @ 12:50am

      Re: Every time Techdirt can promote / defend / child porn, it DO

      Have you found he children in the pizza/arcade place yet? What’s taking so long? I could have busted a real trafficking ring in half the time you amateurs.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 9 Oct 2020 @ 4:51am

        Re: Re: Every time Techdirt can promote / defend / child porn, i

        "Have you found he children in the pizza/arcade place yet?"

        I think he's stumped by the red tape involved in extraditing the small army of abused pizza parlor children from la-la land. Apparently that his visions have been "vivid" cuts little ice with the bureaucracy who keep unreasonably demanding the name of an real world country and embassy to pass the subpoena to.

        We mustn't be too hard on him. As soon as he manages to retrieve the victims from out of his crack pipe we'll all stand corrected and hanging our heads in shame.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Oct 2020 @ 6:35pm

      Re:

      Don't foist your Shiva Ayyadurai fantasies on everybody else, blue boy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TKnarr (profile), 7 Oct 2020 @ 9:03pm

    Reality TV

    Be interesting to pull together clips from "Toddlers and Tiaras" and start a campaign targeted at Texas asking "If we can prosecute the distributors of this stuff, why aren't we prosecuting the producers of the same thing who live right here in the US where we have jurisdiction?".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 12:25am

      Re: Reality TV

      Indeed. Not only was this film not controversial in any manner before it made it to the US, but the context of the film is directly addressing the sexualisation of children exploited by shows like that. That would be a good comeback.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Rekrul, 8 Oct 2020 @ 5:45pm

        Re: Re: Reality TV

        Indeed. Not only was this film not controversial in any manner before it made it to the US, but the context of the film is directly addressing the sexualisation of children exploited by shows like that. That would be a good comeback.

        Most of the people against the film argue that it should have made its point without actually showing the girls doing anything controversial. One of them said that when they finally perform their dance, instead of showing any of it, they should have just shown the audience's shocked reaction.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          PaulT (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 11:29pm

          Re: Re: Re: Reality TV

          "Most of the people against the film argue that it should have made its point without actually showing the girls doing anything controversial"

          How many of those people have ever seen a French movie before?

          That's part of the problem here - the people complaining about this movie were not the original target audience, and their film education is likely not from European stock. If you want a laugh ask them to watch Martyrs or Irreversible next.

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          • identicon
            Rekrul, 9 Oct 2020 @ 12:25pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Reality TV

            How many of those people have ever seen a French movie before?

            Without being dubbed? Probably zero.

            That's part of the problem here - the people complaining about this movie were not the original target audience, and their film education is likely not from European stock.

            Their reaction: Sick is sick, doesn't matter what country it's from!

            If you want a laugh ask them to watch Martyrs or Irreversible next.

            Well those would be OK because they only feature adults.

            You have to understand that many of these people are the same ones who think that Trump is waging a secret battle to take down a world-wide network of child sex trafficking, Satan worshiping, cannibal celebrities.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 9 Oct 2020 @ 11:20pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Reality TV

              "Without being dubbed? Probably zero."

              Indeed, there's two things that have really happened here. One is that Netflix's reach means that a film they'd never notice between the Lars Von Trier and Gaspar Noe films on the world cinema shelf at Blockbuster has been brought to their attention, the second is a horribly misjudged marketing campaign that feeds directly into a current right-wing fantasy. Under normal circumstances, they'd not only not know of the film, they'd actively avoid coming across such a thing.

              "Well those would be OK because they only feature adults."

              Scenes involving rape, degradation and abuse of women, with one film having overt religious themes? Yeah, they'd probably be OK with them. Both are fantastic and challenging films, but I fear they'd get something different from them than I did.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 8 Oct 2020 @ 10:06am

    Satanic Panic v2

    This QAnon-level hysteria about child abuse is truly alarming. It seems to have infected most of society. It is now totally normal to rail against the all-but-mythical spectre of sex trafficking, and even pass draconian laws like FOSTA to address it, despite zero evidence it's a major problem. We can't have Backpage, or adults-only Craigslist ads, because we have to think of the half dozen children who might be harmed. In addition, drawings of nonexistent children, your own children innocently bathing, or even yourself can get you prosecuted for child pornography. And now we have a ridiculous attempt to stifle distribution of a film that is itself an attempt to address the problem of child sexualization.

    I think the reason is less to do with protecting children, and more to do with deep American discomfort with children's agency. Much like patriarchal efforts to "protect" women -- as valuable merchandise -- Americans are obsessed with children's purity, seeking to shelter them from any concepts, like sex, that adults have hangups about. (And this cycle continues, with more adults ashamed of their bodies and desires, once these carefully sheltered children have grown up.) Cuties is about children who express themselves in an inappropriately sexual way --- they are thinking and imitating on their own initiative as part of the process of maturing. We all go through this process, but adults seem to forget it, focusing instead on their anxieties, many of which are come by through experience, like abusive partners, sexual violence, etc. Instead of empowering kids, by teaching them to recognize and report abuse and express themselves freely, we want to rein in their entirely normal imitation of what they see, to protect them from creeps who would be aroused by it. Which seems rather backwards and victim-blamey to me, besides counterproductive. I suspect another reason for it is projection --- most children are abused by a trusted close relative or authority figure, not a nefarious stranger. By turning their ire outward, they can cover up and lie to themselves about what's happening in their own homes, and save themselves the difficult questions that arise when they seriously consider the possibility that someone they love and trust is a monster.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 8 Oct 2020 @ 5:54pm

      Re: Satanic Panic v2

      I used to have a firend who download some highly questionible material from the net. he once showed me soem videos of very young girls getting naked an touching themselves on webcams. They were alone, nobody was making them do it, they just wanted to.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Rocky, 9 Oct 2020 @ 5:47am

        Re: Re: Satanic Panic v2

        They were alone, nobody was making them do it, they just wanted to.

        Watching some webcam-videos on the net doesn't include the context why they would film themselves in the way they did. You have no idea what the underlying reason or reasons are.

        As always, context is key if you wan't do draw conclusions that actually have relevance.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Brainulator9 (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 10:50am

    It ain't lewd, you just misunderstood

    I find this whole thing ridiculous. Having viewed or reviewed all relevant files, statutes, and case law, the film is definitely not lewd within the terms of the law, and I don't find behind-the-scenes conjecture compelling without any solid proof of wrongdoing. It's the same sort of vigilante hysteria, I think, that occurred back in the 1980s with the day care centers. I'm not saying that the film is recommended by any means; I'd be less upset on literary critiquing grounds if the main character actually learned something or at least received some comeuppance for her actions (mainly shoving another person into a river and leaving her there as she struggles). But that's not a legal reason to prohibit the film so much as "I don't like it" (unless you're a medieval king/emperor or something). Compare the outrage over Kodomo no Jikan back in 2007, which I think was also blown out of proportion (though that merely led to a canceled US release as opposed to legal action).

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 9 Oct 2020 @ 5:09am

      Re: It ain't lewd, you just misunderstood

      "misunderstood"?

      Hell, no. "Lewd" means the observer perceives a situation as sexually charged.
      And that points to the reason for the hue and cry. I don't perceive a pre-teen trying to emulate a pole dancer or mimicking Britney Spears as "lewd". Embarrassing maybe, and in bad taste, but not "lewd". Apparently a few of those who do are eager to announce that fact.

      I'd be more inclined to question the loudest of the "moral outrage" brigade what, exactly, compelled them to view dancing ten year olds as sexualised in the first place.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 9 Oct 2020 @ 5:49am

        Re: Re: It ain't lewd, you just misunderstood

        "I'd be more inclined to question the loudest of the "moral outrage" brigade what, exactly, compelled them to view dancing ten year olds as sexualised in the first place."

        Well, quite honestly Netflix have a hand in that. The big problem here is that a crowd who would never even think of looking at a French art movie in the past now have it broadcast to them. A film that 20 years ago would have lurked on the World Cinema shelf they never glance at is now promoted alongside the mainstream content on Netflix.

        This in itself is not a problem, except... this is how the film was promoted in France:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuties#/media/File:Cuties_poster.jpg

        This is how Netflix first promoted it internationally:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuties#/media/File:Cuties_Netflix_poster.jpg

        It's clear that for whatever reason, Netflix's marketing department really wanted to emphasise a certain part of the movie.

        I'd say that i this case, it's not merely some people with some dark secrets they don't want to admit to protesting too much, but a reaction to the way the film was being sold to them. Add in the wide mainstream exposure to the advertising, thin skinned fools having a habit of jumping to conclusions when faced with something unfamiliar and an unfortunate tie in to QAnon nonsense, and here we are.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Brainulator9 (profile), 9 Oct 2020 @ 12:47pm

        Re: Re: It ain't lewd, you just misunderstood

        The title was honestly meant as a joke, don't take it too seriously. :-P

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        TKnarr (profile), 9 Oct 2020 @ 8:59pm

        Re: Re: It ain't lewd, you just misunderstood

        There's additional constraints on "lewd" though. Otherwise there'd be no such thing as not-lewd material. Remember Rule 34, it exists for a reason. Describe any image, any at all, and you can find at least 2 people out there who view it as sexually arousing. No exceptions. To be considered "lewd" the material also has to meet objective criteria about how a (theoretical) reasonable person would view it, which takes context into account (an outfit that would be incredibly inappropriate in a high-school hallway wouldn't raise an eyebrow at the beach in summer).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    K`Tetch (profile), 8 Oct 2020 @ 4:10pm

    I gotta say I admire that prosecutor.

    It shows he can take anything and get an indictment out of it.

    So, I can't wait to see how many charges he'll bring against law enforcement agents the next time there's enough public outcry over misconduct in his jurisdiction. I mean since he's THAT good at getting them, a police officer shouldn't be an issue.

    Or is it the opposite. He'll fail to, because he can lead the grand jury any way he wants....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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