The ongoing Netflix animated series “Big Mouth” has sparked concern among parents who believe the teen-oriented show has run afoul of child pornography laws.
In several scenes across the series’ four seasons, the 12- and 13-year-old characters are depicted performing various explicit acts, ranging from making illicit sexual references and discussing masturbation to being shown naked in a locker room.
The Parents Television and Media Council has issued a new report in which it argues the sexually explicit scenes in “Big Mouth” are intended to depict minors and, as such, qualify as child pornography.
In the analysis, the PTC described the content in the show as “alarming” and noted a show does not need to be explicit in order to accurately depict the teenage experience.
“Programs like ‘The Wonder Years’ and ‘Lizzie McGuire’ were commercially successful; and both were uplifting, lighthearted, family-friendly programs that centered on the lives of children going through that very same awkward period,” it stated. “And while program content centering on 12-13-year-olds need not always be appropriate for young children, the program content on ‘Big Mouth’ is alarming.”
“Depicting the full-frontal nudity of little boys — some with erections, no less — can only be intended to shock, titillate, and pander to the viewer,” the study continued. “Such material falls squarely within most definitions of pornography. And inasmuch as it features children, we believe this qualifies as child pornography.”
PTC President Tim Winter told The Daily Wire he believes it would be difficult to make a legal argument for why the scenes in “Big Mouth” shouldn’t count as child pornography.
“I relish the chance to go into a courtroom with Netflix as a defendant and the creators of this program for producing and distributing it as co-defendants,” he told the outlet, adding he wants to ensure law enforcement agencies at all levels examine whether laws have been broken.
Winter went on to reference former Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous description of the content that meets the threshold for obscenity. In his concurrence, Potter wrote the U.S. Constitution protects against all obscenity except “hard-core pornography.”
“I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description,” the justice wrote. “And perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it.”
The PTC president said the content in the Netflix series surpasses that.
“Although I think Potter Steward would agree that he would look at this and know it,” he said. “But when you look at most contemporary definitions of what pornography is — sexually-oriented material that is intended to pander and titillate — I think [‘Big Mouth’] reaches that. The fact that it is children engaged in pornographic content, I think, renders it child pornography.”
This is the second time in a little over a year that Netflix has faced criticism over allegations of child sexual exploitation.
In August of last year, the streaming platform faced intense backlash over the film “Cuties,” a French movie that follows an 11-year-old protagonist, Amy, as she hopes to escape her Senegalese family’s conservative roots. She ends up joining a “twerking” dance troupe with other underage girls, all of whom are scantily clad and performing highly sexualized dance routines.
Much of the ire was directed at a promotional poster for the movie, which showed the underage teens wearing skimpy clothing and posing in provocative ways. Netflix said at the time it was “deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork” used to advertise the film.
As for “Big Mouth,” Winter believes the facts are on PTC’s side. To make his case, he referenced a 2017 interview with series creator Andrew Goldberg, who seemingly questioned the legality of the content in the animated show.
“The question was asked, I think by [comedian] John Mulaney, on day one,” Goldberg recalled to GameSpot. “He’s like, ‘Are we sure we’re not doing child pornography?’ And we really thought about it.”
Goldberg said that was not his goal. Instead, he told the outlet, he wanted to create a show that accurately depicted the adolescent experience.
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