A parents group is calling for Netflix to remove the film Desire from its services for depicting “a nine year old girl masturbating to the point of orgasm.”
Timothy F. Winter, president of the Parents Television Council, writes in an open letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, “I respectfully, but pointedly, ask you: Does the Netflix brand stand for the distribution of nine year old girls masturbating? The answer is yes or no; there is no other choice here.”
The scene in question depicts two young girls “watching a western on television and are pretending their pillows are horses,” Winter writes. “The older girl begins to obviously masturbate as the younger child watches. The camera even takes this scene into a closeup of the child’s face in slow motion, moving up and down and panting like a porn star.”
Diego Kaplan, director of the Argentinian film, defended the scene in a statement to Indiewire, saying, “We work in a world of fiction; and, for me, before being a director comes being a father.”
Kaplan goes on to say the scene was filmed “using a trick, which was that the girls were copying a cowboy scene from a film by John Ford. The girls never understood what they were doing, they were just copying what they were seeing on the screen.”
“No adult interacted with the girls, other than the child acting coach,” Kaplan continued. “Everything was done under the careful surveillance of the girls’ mothers. Because I knew this scene might cause some controversy at some point, there is ‘Making Of’ footage of the filming of the entire scene. Everything works inside the spectators’ heads, and how you think this scene was filmed will depend on your level of depravity.”
Winter also calls out other Netflix programs such as 13 Reasons Why and the animated show Big Mouth for their depictions of suicide and sexualization of children, respectively.
“At such a momentous time in Hollywood as this, where #MeToo is exposing grotesque behavior and holding those accountable for engaging in it, how can Netflix affirmatively engage in the distribution of such disreputable content?” Winter asks, before addressing Hastings by name to remove the “child-porn content” and adopt guidelines that “reflect the needs of concerned families.”
A request for comment from Netflix was not immediately returned.