Sen. Mike Lee is continuing his assault against the controversial Netflix film “Cuties,” calling for the online streaming service to pull the film because he says it’s akin to child exploitation.
“This film actually embodies that. It profits from it. It normalizes it, and that’s wrong,” said Lee, R-Utah, during a Tuesday interview on Fox News.
“Netflix needs to take it off of its platform and people shouldn’t watch it,” he said.
Lee held a conference call with Netflix executives earlier this week after he sent a letter to the service asking them to explain why the film, which was lauded at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, is not criminal exploitation of minors. The film is about a young Senegalese girl in Paris who joins a “free-spirited dance clique” to escape family dysfunction.
Lee’s office confirmed the call, but would not say what was discussed. The senator, Netflix’s CEO and others participated.
“Because we want to encourage all who want to speak with the senator to do so freely, we will not be sharing details about what was said,” responded Lee’s office in an email.
The director of the film, Maimouna Doucoure, said Monday that “Cuties” seeks to fight the exploitation and hyper-sexualization of young girls.
“The hyper-sexualization of your children is everywhere. It’s through social media,” she said during a panel discussion. “American people when I was at Sundance, they agreed with that, and told me that the film is important to open eyes to the issue and try to fix it.”
Doucoure has reported receiving death threats because of the controversy surrounding the film.
Netflix has defended “Cuties," saying it’s a “social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” in a statement to Variety.
“We’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie,” the statement continued.
Lee said he agrees with the intent, but the film’s approach is all wrong.
“This is a problem that does need attention drawn to it," he said. “But the way in which this draws attention to the problem is by glamorizing it, by normalizing it and by profiting from it.”