Netflix Victorious in Texas Child Pornography Lawsuit From ‘School of Rock’ Actor

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A still from Cuties with the Texas State Flag

Credit: Pixabay/Ray Shrewberry/BAC Films, Edited by ITM

Netflix, the world’s most popular streaming service, has emerged victorious in a lawsuit over the critically acclaimed French film Cuties (2020), which had been indicted by a grand jury in Tyler County, Texas (per NBC News), which claimed the drama was “child pornography” without cultural or artistic value.

Post for the 2020 movie "Cuties"
Credit: BAC Films

After several years of legal proceedings, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld a lower-court decision that put prosecution from Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Babin on hold indefinitely (per Newsweek). In an odd aspect of this very contentious case, Mr. Babin is himself a show business veteran, having starred as “Spider” in the Jack Black film School of Rock (2003), the Brazilian soap opera América, and the long-running American soap opera The Young and the Restless.

Spider (Lucas Babin) playing guitar in School of Rock
Credit: Paramount Pictures

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Lucas Babin also starred in the music video for Paris Hilton‘s single “Stars Are Blind.”

Cuties (titled Mignonnes in France) was directed by Maïmouna Doucouré and follows an 11-year-old Senegalese-French girl (Fathia Youssouf) who joins a youth dance group that imitates the sexualized dance moves of adult women. Although the film was critically acclaimed (currently at 87% on Rotten Tomatoes), it was also immediately controversial for its depiction and critique of the hyper-sexualization of prepubescent girls, which Doucouré has repeatedly stated in interviews is the point of the film.

When the Netflix lawsuit was originally filed in 2020, Lucas Babin accused the streaming platform and Cuties of “knowingly promote visual material which depicts the lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 years of age at the time the visual material was created, which appeals to the prurient interest in sex, and has no serious, literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

Netflix logo superimposed over the planet Earth
Credit: Netflix/Inside the Magic

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In contrast, Netflix vigorously defended itself against the charges, which have now been defeated twice in court. Netflix issued a statement saying, “Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children. This charge is without merit and we stand by the film.”

Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Don R. Willett said in the court filing for the decision in favor of Netflix that:

“The district court found that Babin prosecuted Netflix in bad faith— a finding of fact that followed discovery and a seven-hour evidentiary hearing at which Babin testified…Babin contends on appeal that the district court’s finding in this respect was not only erroneous but clearly so—a contention, we are mindful, that must also surmount considerable deference to the district court’s credibility determinations.

“After carefully reviewing the record and the parties’ arguments at this preliminary stage in the proceedings, we are not left ‘with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.’ To the contrary, sufficient evidence supports the district court’s findings.”

“Netflix has shown at this stage that it has been subjected to a bad-faith prosecution, an injury we have already deemed ‘irreparable,’”

That’s certainly a clear-cut victory for Netflix. Not so much of one for the School of Rock star.

Inside the Magic reached out to Lucas Babin and Netflix for comment, but has not heard back by the time of publishing.

What do you think of this Netflix lawsuit? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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