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Republicans call for DOJ to prosecute Netflix executives for releasing 'Cuties'

Republicans call for DOJ to prosecute Netflix executives for releasing 'Cuties'
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A group of House Republicans is calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prosecute Netflix executives for releasing the controversial film “Cuties,” arguing it meets the statutory definition for child pornography.

In a letter — led by Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) and signed by 33 House GOP lawmakers — the group said the film is exploitive of minors and that those who allowed it to appear on the streaming service should be held legally responsible.

“We're writing to recommend you bring charges against Netflix, Inc. for the distribution of the film ‘Cuties,’ which contains child pornography,” the lawmakers wrote to Attorney General William BarrBill BarrCNN legal analyst joins DOJ's national security division Barr threatened to resign over Trump attempts to fire Wray: report DOJ faces big decision on home confinement MORE.

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They said federal law states that “child pornography is any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor, and that conduct does not need to specifically depict sexual activity to qualify."

"Cuties clearly meets the United States' legal definition of child pornography,” they added.

The French film is about an 11-year-old Senegalese immigrant in France who joins other pre-teen girls in a school dance group called "the cuties."

Conservatives have blasted the film for featuring young girls in revealing attire engaging in suggestive dance moves.

“According to IMDB's parental guide, Cuties contains, ‘a scene where an 11-year-old girl dressed in a tank and panties is splashed with water and begins twerking in a frenzied kind of way,’ and numerous other, equally distressing depictions of minors including the display of an 11-year-old child's bare breast,” the House Republicans wrote.

“The First Amendment protects corporations and individuals from obscenity law if they can prove artistic expression, but this protection rightfully does not apply to child pornography. Cuties is child pornography and its distributors should be prosecuted accordingly,” they added.

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Netflix has defended its decision to stream the film, arguing it is a "social commentary against the sexualization of young children.”

“It's 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," a spokesperson for the streaming service said in a statement.

A Netflix spokesperson also noted that the IMDB parental guide was inaccurate and "the film contains no underage nudity." The IMBD page for the film has since been updated. 

The House GOP lawmakers call for prosecution follows a request from Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzYang: Those who thought tweet in support of Israel was 'overly simplistic' are correct CNN asks Carol Baskin to comment on loose Texas tiger Republicans have dumped Reagan for Trump MORE (R-Texas) and Tom CottonTom Bryant CottonTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls Opposition to refugees echoes one of America's most shameful moments White House defends CDC outreach to teachers union MORE (R-Ark.) that the DOJ investigate the film.

Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerGeorgia Republican secretary of state hits Loeffler as 'weak,' 'fake Trumper' Loeffler asks Georgia attorney general to investigate Raffensperger over 2020 election Former Rep. Doug Collins won't enter Georgia Senate race MORE (R-Ga.) has called for the Senate Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing on preventing child exploitation and trafficking in response to the release of the film.

Updated: Sept. 19, 5:37 p.m.