(New York, NY) — PEN America today said allegations that the Netflix film Cuties crosses legal lines are false and that a Texas grand jury felony indictment against Netflix is an attack on free expression. PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel said the following:

“A Texas grand jury’s indictment of Netflix over the film Cuties is an egregious infringement on the expressive freedoms protected by the First Amendment. While people are free to criticize the film’s depiction of children in provocative clothing and dance performances, the claim that this fictional film transgresses legal lines is patently false. The film does not depict sexual acts, nor is there any accusation that children were abused or exploited in its creation. The invocation of the legal system to forcibly impose the mores of certain offended viewers on film director Maïmouna Doucouré and Netflix represents a gross violation of artistic freedom.

“This act evokes the dark days decades ago when classic novels including Ulysses and Lady Chatterley’s Lover formed the basis of obscenity prosecutions on grounds of lasciviousness and indecency. Pious prosecutors and judges impervious to considerations of free speech and artistic merit sought to impose their iron moral will on creators and audiences, constricting the bounds of open expression in decisions that were not just overturned, but discredited utterly by the subsequent court opinions, the weight of public sentiment, and the forward march of history. Art’s very purpose is to wrestle with complex societal issues in ways that challenge and sometimes discomfit us. To suggest that its success in so doing is grounds for censorship or reprisal is to eviscerate artistic freedom entirely. This indictment, and the calls that led up to it, are retrogressive and flagrantly unconstitutional efforts to muzzle and punish creative expression.”