Written by PTC | Published October 29, 2020
LOS ANGELES (October 29, 2020) – In a new letter, the Parents Television Council and Enough is Enough have called on each member of the Netflix Board of Directors, including Richard Barton, Rodolphe Belmer, Mathias Döpfner, Tim Haley, Jay Hoag, Leslie Kilgore, Ann Mather, Ambassador Susan Rice, Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos, Brad Smith, Anne Sweeney, to instruct Netflix management to end its “grotesque corporate practice” of “sexualizing children for purposes of profit and entertainment.”
The full text of the letter co-written by Parents Television Council President Tim Winter and Enough is Enough President and CEO Donna Rice Hughes and dated October 27, 2020, is as follows:
As a member of Netflix’s Board of Directors, in addition to setting policy for corporate management and oversight, you have a fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders. Inasmuch as Netflix has made a practice of sexualizing children for purposes of profit and entertainment (a practice this board has made no effort to constrain or discontinue); and inasmuch as that practice has led to an untold number of subscribers dropping their Netflix accounts in recent weeks and stock analysts projecting a loss of value to shareholders, you have failed in both obligations. Worse, you are complicit in the sexual exploitation of children, the degree of which raises serious legal questions. Therefore, in response to the tens of thousands of concerned parents, grandparents and citizens who have signed petitions, we now call on you to act immediately and instruct Netflix management to end this grotesque corporate practice, now and forever.
As you are no doubt already aware, the company on whose board you sit was indicted earlier this month by a grand jury in Tyler County, Texas for promoting material “which depicts lewd exhibition of pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 years of age which appeals to the prurient interest in sex.”
You should also be aware that a little over a week ago, the Parents Television Council and Enough is Enough formally called on the United States Department of Justice to investigate Netflix for possible violation of federal child pornography laws.
In a digital society already overrun with child sex abuse images, “Cuties” is an irresponsible, gross display of sexual exploitation, whetting the appetites and sexual fantasies of pedophiles, sexual predators, and traffickers with its hypersexualized content. It also sends a message to youth that sexualized behavior is desired.
Child pornography under federal law is defined as any visual depiction of sexually explicit conduct involving a minor (someone under 18 years of age). Visual depictions include photographs, videos, digital or computer-generated images indistinguishable from an actual minor, and images created, adapted, or modified, but appear to depict an identifiable, actual minor. In 2018, tech companies reported over 45 million online photos and videos of children being sexually abused, including infants and toddlers — more than double what they found the previous year.
As a member of Netflix’s Board of Directors, you must also be aware that in recent years, Netflix has introduced several youth-targeted series and dramas that depict children, or child-aged characters, in explicit sexual situations – “Cuties” is only the latest example of this.
As demonstrated by the grand jury in Texas that levied the criminal indictment against Netflix, such content raises serious legal questions regarding possible child pornography violations, as the characters are represented to be underage minors. Furthermore, the actresses portraying the characters in “Cuties” are indeed minor children.
We are blessed as Americans to have a protected right to free speech; but just because we have a right to do something does not necessarily mean it is the right thing to do. And there is a legal boundary upon which your company is clearly encroaching. The Netflix corporate narrative of unfettered artistic creativity has been exposed as vacuous, given the company’s practice of swift self-censorship whenever a foreign government demands it.
On behalf of countless millions of Americans – and citizens around the world – who are concerned about the sexualization and sexual exploitation of children in entertainment, we call on you to act immediately to remove any programming that sexualizes children, and institute a policy that Netflix will never produce or distribute any such content going forward.
Donna Rice Hughes
President and CEO, Enough is Enough
Timothy F. Winter
President, Parents Television Council
Reed Hastings, CEO, Netflix
Ted Sarandos, Co-CEO and Chief Content Officer
Netflix Board of Directors