Netflix is facing one of the biggest controversies in its history over the tween-twerking drama Cuties. But you wouldn’t necessarily know that from watching CNN, which interviewed Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings on Thursday and failed to ask any questions about the movie that depicts underage girls in a highly sexual way.
CNN host Poppy Harlow lobbed a series of softball questions at Hastings during their Skype interview, including queries about corporate philanthropy and his new book, No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention. The ten-minute interview didn’t feature any questions about Cuties or the fallout from the movie, including calls for customers to cancel their subscriptions.
Cuties, which was released this week on the streaming service, tells the story of an 11-year-old French girl who joins a twerking troupe as a way to find freedom from her repressive Senegalese Muslim family. The movie features an extended dance sequence showing the underage girls gyrating erotically on stage while touching themselves in sexually provocative ways.
Netflix has defended the movie, saying in a statement Thursday that the movie provides “social commentary against the sexualization of young children.” The streamer has previously apologized for the movie’s trailer and poster, which highlighted moments from the lewd dance sequence.
Sen. Josh Hawley called out Netflix’s purported concern about child sexual exploitation, by highlighting posts to the parental guide page of IMDB, where warnings about nudity and hyper-sexual scenes involving young girls are shown.
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) September 11, 2020
None of this came up during Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings’ interview with CNN on Thursday. Instead, the executive spoke about the internal work culture at Netflix and even his experience in marriage counseling and how it helped him become a better manager.
Host Poppy Harlow asked Hastings about Netflix’s decision last year to censor an episode of its comedy show Patriot Act in Saudi Arabia.
“It was a very difficult decision,” Reed Hastings said, adding that the episode was available on YouTube in Saudi Arabia and that Netflix was able to show content including Queer Eye and Orange Is the New Black. “It is a troubling compromise, not something that we approach easily or lightly. But on balance, we think that it’s a good move.”
Netflix has a production deal with Barack and Michelle Obama, who have so far remained silent on the Cuties controversy. So has former Obama national security advisor Susan Rice, who sits on Netflix’s board of directors.