NATIONWIDE — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has called for the Department of Justice to launch an investigation into the French film “Cuties,” which debuted on Netflix in the United States on September 9.

What You Need To Know

  • French film "Cuties" debuted on Netflix on September 9

  • Poster and trailer for the film drew immediate backlash

  • Sen. Ted Cruz likened film to "child pornography" and called for investigation 

  • Supporters contend the film is being mischaracterized 

Cruz, taking to Twitter, contended the film sexualizes 11-year-old girls and constitutes child pornography, which he earlier told Fox News.

".@netflix’s ‘Cuties’ sexualizes 11-year-old girls, and it’s disgusting and wrong. That’s why I’ve asked AG Barr to investigate whether Netflix, its executives, or the filmmakers violated any federal laws against the production or distribution of child pornography.”

Cruz is not alone in his assessment of the film. Hashtags such as #cuties and #cancelnetflix have popped up in recent days, calling for people to cancel their subscriptions to the streaming service.

Described as a coming-of-age comedy-drama, "Cuties" is the directorial debut from French-Senegalese filmmaker Maïmouna Doucouré. The plot concerns a French-Senegalese girl who struggles with the conflicting values of her Muslim upbringing and internet culture.

According to the filmmakers, the film, which won the Directing Award at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, actually criticizes the sexualization of pre-adolescent girls. Adding to the controversy was Netflix’s marketing of the film, which included posters and trailers for the film that were criticized for allegedly sexualizing children. The Parent Television Council called on Netflix to remove the film entirely, and a petition on called for people to cancel their subscriptions to the streaming service.

In response, Netflix replaced the poster with a new one and issued the following statement:

"This was not an accurate representation of the film so the image and description has been updated."

The film has its supporters as well. Actress Tessa Thompson wrote the following on Twitter:

“CUTIES is a beautiful film. It gutted me at @sundancefest. It introduces a fresh voice at the helm. She’s a French Senegalese Black woman mining her experiences. The film comments on the hyper-sexualization of preadolescent girls. Disappointed to see the discourse.”