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Netflix cartoon 'grooms children for sexual abuse,' watchdog alleges

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A prominent family media watchdog group is alleging that the popular Netflix show "Big Mouth" "grooms children for sexual abuse" and is urging authorities to investigate the show for potentially violating child pornography laws. 

In a report published Wednesday, the Parents Television and Media Council voiced concerns with the adult animated TV series that focuses on middle schoolers going through puberty and depicts 12-and-13-year-old children in sexual situations and engaging in sexual dialogue.

The report contains graphic screenshots and lists examples of “sexualizing or sexually exploitative content involving children” across the 10 episodes of the show’s fourth season.

PTC found that across the entire 4.5 hours of programming that comprised “Big Mouth’s” fourth season, each minute of programming featured “almost 4 instances of sex, violence and profane, indecent, or obscene language.” 

The fourth season contained “17 instances of animated nudity, most of it featuring the genitals of minor-aged characters.”

Additionally, PTC tallied “190 sexual references or instances of sexual innuendo.” The series also contained a multitude of profanity, including sexually charged language that “the PTC has never seen or heard on any television program [in] its 26-year history.” 

The report also highlighted the graphic depiction of a menstrual cycle and a character exposing his genitals to another character before asking him to touch and “taste” what he likened to a “duck egg."

The show also featured a character comparing his genitals to two duck eggs in a “hairy nest,” a male minor character digitally penetrating a female minor character and multiple depictions of minor boys in a communal shower with their private parts on full display. 

“It should shock the conscience to see children sexually exploited for the sake of entertainment and financial profit, as they are on Big Mouth. Seeing children used in this way for the entertainment of adults violates our sensibilities, especially when, across the nation and around the world, sexual assault is spiking, and women and children are being held in sexual bondage,” said PTC President Tim Winter in a statement

“We would have thought that Hollywood, following on the heels of its reckoning with the #MeToo movement, would eschew the production and distribution of programming that centers on sexual exploitation,” he added. “It is unfathomable that Netflix hosts a program suggesting a child be held down and having a penis forced into his mouth; that a child would offer to fellate his own father; that a character would suggest having sex with his own excrement and then eat it. But that, and more, is on Netflix’s Big Mouth.”

The Christian Post reached out to Netflix for comment on the PTC report. A response is pending. 

Winter warned that the "ultimate impact" of a program like "Big Mouth" is to either desensitize children and adolescents or "present children as sexually willing, precocious, and adventuresome to adult viewers."

"Neither scenario should be considered acceptable," he said. "Neither has a place in our society.”

Winter said that the depiction of full-frontal nudity of boys — some of which had erections — is "intended to shock, titillate, and pander to the viewer."

"Such material falls squarely within most definitions of pornography," he argued. "And inasmuch as it features children, we believe this qualifies as child pornography.”

The report urges local, state and federal law enforcement to "determine whether child
pornography laws have been broken." Winter called on the streaming service to “cease its practice of sexually exploiting children for entertainment and profit, and to remove Big Mouth from its distribution platform.”

This week’s report is not the first time the PTC has raised concerns about “Big Mouth.”

In 2018, Netflix partnered with Facebook to distribute a mobile game called “Hand Masters” based on the series, which was then in its first season.

Described as the “first international masturbation game,” the game rewards players based on their ability to use their smartphone to simulate male masturbation for 20 seconds. 

The Parents Television and Media Council characterized “Hand Masters” as a “new low” in what they viewed as Netflix’s “sexualization of children.”

In a previous interview with The Christian Post, PTC Program Director Melissa Henson noted that “they use a video clip to promote this game in particular where there is this big hairy [hormone] monster that is supposed to represent boys libido or meant to represent puberty as something that is scary and unfamiliar that is coaching this young boy on how to masturbate.”

“It is very disturbing the way it is done," she said. "They are encouraging adults to view these kids as sexual objects or they are encouraging kids to imitate the behavior that they are seeing in the cartoon. Either scenario is very concerning.” 

PTC’s latest report on “Big Mouth” states that the phenomenon of “child characters being put in extremely explicit sexual situations” is not limited to “Big Mouth.”

Other examples of Netflix programming containing similar content cited in the report include “Desire," a film which "depicts a little girl of 9 playing ‘horse’ by straddling a pillow and bringing herself to orgasm." Another example is a Netflix series called “Sex Education,” which features teens “engaged in graphic sex scenes with dialog so explicit that one might expect to find it in XXX films.” 

Netflix had previously faced criticism for distributing “Cuties,” a foreign film about an 11-year-old girl who rebels against her conservative family by joining a dance group. Promotional material for the film featured underage girls wearing sexually provocative clothing and the film depicted the girls engaging in the suggestive dance practice known as “twerking.” 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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