Politics

Sen. Hawley: “Netflix Has One More Day To Respond To My Letter”

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Senator Hawley Calls on Netflix to Take Down Cuties.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Today U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) sent a letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings calling for the removal of Cuties, a controversial new film that depicts preteens engaged in sexually explicit dance routines, from the platform. Senator Hawley asks why Netflix chose to market the film with a poster solely depicting scantily clad preteens in sexual positions, if Netflix took any measures to protect the child actors made to perform simulated sex acts, and exactly what audience Netflix is attempting to target with this movie.

Senator Hawley writes, “In early 2019, journalists first began to report that YouTube videos of children in partial states of exposure were being ‘inundated with comments’ by pedophiles, exposing the children involved in the videos and other children visiting the platform to potential harm. Now Netflix is airing a film called Cuties depicting children being coached to engage in simulated sexual acts, for cameras both onscreen and off. Your decision to do so raises major questions of child safety and exploitation, including the possibility of copycat behavior and exploitation of child actors.”

Full text of the letter is available here and below.

September 11, 2020

Reed Hastings
Chief Executive Officer
Netflix, Inc.
100 Winchester Circle
Los Gatos, CA 95032

Dear Mr. Hastings:

In early 2019, journalists first began to report that YouTube videos of children in partial states of exposure were being “inundated with comments” by pedophiles, exposing the children involved in the videos and other children visiting the platform to potential harm.[1] Now Netflix is airing a film called Cuties depicting children being coached to engage in simulated sexual acts, for cameras both onscreen and off. Your decision to do so raises major questions of child safety and exploitation, including the possibility of copycat behavior and exploitation of child actors.

Please respond to the following questions no later than Friday, September 18, 2020. And in the interim, please immediately remove this film from your platform.

Why did your company designate this film with a “TV-MA” for “language” without any mention of its graphic sexual content?

In marketing this film, did Netflix consult with any experts or authorities on combating child sexual exploitation or the psychological and emotional impacts of the sexualization of minors?

In marketing this film, did Netflix consult with any law enforcement authorities or experts about the possibility of copycat behavior, such as the viewing and imitation of hardcore pornography, by children who may see this film?

Did Netflix, at any point, take measures to ensure the protection of the physical, mental, and emotional health of child actors made to perform simulated sex acts and filmed in sexual or sexually suggestive ways?

Why did your company choose to market this film—which touches on a range of issues including religion, culture, and social media—with a poster solely depicting scantily clad preteens in sexually suggestive positions?[2]

Why did your company choose to market this film with a poster different from the French original, which depicts children throwing confetti in the street?[3]
What internal algorithmic designations has Netflix appended to this film, and what are the primary algorithmic characteristics of the film’s primary viewership as of today, September 11, 2020?

We will await your response.

Sincerely,

Josh Hawley
United States Senator

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