In an escalation in the battle over Netflix’s Cuties, Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) is asking the Federal Communications Commission to prohibit any future broadcast of the underage twerking movie on public television channels, saying in a letter, sent exclusively to Breitbart News, that the movie meets the standard of “obscene material” and therefore would not be protected by the First Amendment.
Collins said in a letter Thursday to FCC chairman Ajit Pai that the commission should “use its authority to ensure that Cuties is never broadcast on public television channels in the United States.” The letter describes the movie as “disgusting” and “inappropriate,” adding that it “will only serve to please pedophiles.”
Cuties, which Netflix released on its digital streaming platform earlier this month, tells the story of an 11-year-old French girl who joins a tween twerking troupe as a way to escape her oppressive Senegalese-Muslim family. The movie features an extended sequence in which the underage girls engage in erotic dance moves and simulated sexual behavior.
Rep. Collins is arguing that Cuties meets the “Miller” test for obscene material, which means it would not be protected by free speech laws. The U.S. Supreme Court established the Miller standard in the 1973 case Miller v. California to determine if material qualifies as obscene and can thus be barred from public viewing.
The congressman is also arguing that the FCC has the power to ban Cuties from airwaves even if it doesn’t meet the obscenity test because the 1978 ruling FCC v. Pacifica Foundation allows the commission to regulate a broadcast that is “indecent.”
Since its release, Cuties has drawn increasing Congressional scrutiny, with members of Congress urging the Department of Justice open a criminal inquiry into Netflix’s decision to distribute the French movie.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) has accused Netflix of “peddling child pornography.” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) called the movie “child porn,” insisting that the film will “whet the appetite of pedophiles & help fuel the child sex trafficking trade.”
Netflix, which has defended the movie as “social commentary” against the sexualization of children, acquired Cuties in January after it screened at the Sundance Film Festival. The company is believed to have the exclusive digital streaming rights to the movie in the U.S., but it remains unclear for how long and if the agreement prevents networks from broadcasting the movie at some point in the future.
Barack and Michelle Obama, who have a production deal with Netflix, has so far remained silent about the Cuties controversy, as has former Obama national security advisor Susan Rice, who sits on Netflix’s board of directors.
Netflix previously apologized for its marketing campaign for Cuties, which featured a trailer and movie poster that spotlighted the erotic dance sequence featuring young girls.