Somebody might want to mention the First Rule of Holes to Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos. His company is already taking enough heat over their decision to stream the foreign, child-erotica film “Cuties,” including the recent indictment in Texas that we discussed last week. But rather than taking their foot off the gas and finding a way to put this unpleasant episode behind him, Sarandos has decided to double down. While addressing some industry players yesterday, the Netflix executive decided to “explain” the controversy to the world, saying that his critics have it all wrong and he’s having a difficult time understanding what all the fuss is about. (Fox Business)

Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos is hitting back at critics who have been loud in their distaste of the controversial film “Cuties” that has spurred intense backlash since it debuted in September…

Sarandos said during a virtual MIPCOM — the annual global market and conference for entertainment content — on Monday that the movie was “misunderstood” in America and took umbrage with language within the indictment that claimed “Cuties” “appeals to the prurient interest in sex, and has no serious, literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”

“It’s a little surprising in 2020 America that we’re having a discussion about censoring storytelling,” Sarandos told the Mipcom market, according to Deadline.

I see. So the film is simply “misunderstood” by all of your clueless subscribers. It’s always worthwhile to clear up misunderstandings, but I’m not sure he’s about to convince anyone that this situation is something other than what it clearly is. He’s seriously arguing that it was insulting to the director for her work to be described as appealing to a prurient interest in underage girls and completely lacking any artistic merit. How dare you people say such things.

Sarandos went on to claim to be surprised that we’re all spending our time talking about “censoring storytelling.” I suppose that’s one way to put it, but keep in mind that Deep Throat had a storyline also. That didn’t mean that it was appropriate for all audiences. Further, that early classic of pornography at least had the good sense to use actors that were all legal adults.

What the Netflix co-CEO seems to fail to realize is that the uproar over “Cuties” isn’t a question of censorship. It’s not a question of pornography. It’s a question of something that walks dangerously close to the edge of child pornography, which is an entirely different animal. Child exploitation or child endangerment would be closer to the mark.

As I wrote at the beginning of this debacle, I understand the point that the film’s director was trying to make in defending the movie. If we take her at her word, she was trying to tell a story about young children with inadequate guidance who fall under the spell of YouTube “influencers” and get in trouble when they seek to emulate them. That’s a cautionary tale worth exploring. But it could have been done without the child erotica scenes featured prominently in the film.

I also remain uncertain if a court in Texas is the correct venue to go after Netflix or if the film even fully crossed the line into the legal definition of true child exploitation or pornography. But it certainly danced up uncomfortably close to the edge of it. Sarandos should realize this also and he should know better than to swim against this tide. Pulling the movie off his streaming service and issuing a brief apology should have been all that was required to put this behind him. But instead, he’s going to go to bat for the director and stick to his guns. We’ll see how that works out for his business down the line.