Though Netflix’s animated series, “Big Mouth,” bills itself as TV-MA and is ostensibly intended for adults, it features 12- and 13-year-old characters engaging in sex acts and includes animated nudity and graphic dialogue, according to a parents group demanding Netflix be investigated over the show.
One scene, for example, shows a 13-year-old boy who doesn’t want to be left at camp yelling, “I’ll suck your d**k,” to his departing father. Another shows a group of middle school boys fully nude in a shower, waving their penises. Still another scene shows two boys discussing mutual masturbation, sharing tips on how to masturbate, and fondling themselves in front of one another.
A new report from the Parents Television and Media Council (PTC) argues that, despite being a cartoon, “Big Mouth’s” sexually explicit content is meant to depict minors and therefore qualifies as child pornography. The group is calling on law enforcement to investigate the distributor, Netflix.
For the report, released Wednesday, the PTC reviewed ten episodes of “Big Mouth.” Among the explicit content it found:
- A child is held down and has a penis forced into his mouth.
- A minor exposes his scrotum.
- Minors are shown in a shower with erect penises.
- A child urinates on another child in a shower.
- A male minor character penetrates a female minor character with his fingers.
- A character suggests having sex with his own excrement and eating it.
While much of this material is expressed through dialogue, some scenes do depict sex acts and show nudity. In total, the PTC reports, these ten episodes included 17 instances of animated nudity, primarily depicting the genitals of middle-school boys and girls.
Tim Winter, President of the PTC tells The Daily Wire that it would be very tough to argue that this material does not meet the threshold for 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 says. He adds that the PTC wants to make sure that law enforcement — including federal, state, and local jurisdictions — evaluate the content for themselves to see if laws have been broken.
“We’re not just talking about the ‘I know it when I see it’ [Supreme Court] Justice Stewart Potter definition of pornography. Although I think Potter Stewart would agree that he would look at this and know it.” Winters says. “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 the pornographic content, I think renders it child pornography.”
Winter acknowledges that some may find this series less controversial than the French film, “Cuties.” which embroiled the streaming network in a child exploitation scandal last year. In that case, the live-action movie featured 11- and 12-year-old girls twerking and performing sexually suggestive dance moves. After news of the film broke, a boycott campaign began that ultimately resulted in the streaming giant seeing an 800% increase in subscription cancellations.
But Winter argues this occasion shouldn’t be any different.
“It doesn’t necessarily have to be live action in order to be pornographic,” he says. “You know, there have been pornographic cartoons for decades if not longer. So I truly believe that this reaches that level and we intend to use the full force and credibility and weight of our grassroots membership around the country to push this out to law enforcement to see if, in fact, laws were broken.”
One bit of evidence Winter and the PTC might have on their side — some of Big Mouth’s own actors are on record questioning whether the show qualifies as child pornography.
When GameSpot asked creator Andrew Goldberg in a 2017 interview about the legality of showing animated pre-teens’ genitals, Goldberg replied, “The question was asked, I think by [comedian] John Mulaney, on day one,” Goldberg said. “He’s like, ‘Are we sure we’re not doing child pornography?’ And we really thought about it.”
But Goldberg insisted that was not his goal. Instead, he said he and his team wanted adult viewers to look back and say of adolescence, “’Wow, that’s just what it was like, or what it is like, going through this, and I feel better and not alone.’”
Melissa Henson, PTC program director and parent of 13-year old, argues the perverse content discussed and depicted on the show is in no way a commonplace reality for the average tween.
“[My son] is the same age as the characters that are depicted in this show and that’s not my experience, “she says. “If [‘Big Mouth’] is for adults to look back at puberty with the distance of time, what, what advantage, what benefit is gained for those adult viewers to have animated versions of children’s genitals on screen? How is that going to help them be more nostalgic? If, on the other hand, this is intended for children, how does society benefit by sexualizing children in this really disturbing way?”
“Big Mouth” and “Cuties” hardly represent the only instances where the streaming giant has courted controversy around content featuring children. In 2018 it aired a film titled “Desire,” which depicted a 9-year-old girl masturbating with a pillow. And the two seasons of the teen series “Sex Education” depict high-schoolers engaging in graphic sex acts.
Taken all together, Winter says Netflix seems to be trying to create a brand around the sexual exploitation of children.
“It is it is shocking and it’s a whole new level,” he says. “It’s something that we a have never seen before and we honestly could never have imagined before…Netflix especially seems to have really staked out a position with several different television shows that are not only proven to be toxic for children but technically exploitative, with shows and films like “Desire,” “Cuties,” “Sex Education. And now this.”
Like the other series Winter highlighted, “Big Mouth” has achieved wide critical acclaim, with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) nominating it in its annual awards for the best LBGT-related television.
The Daily Wire reached out to Netflix for a response to allegations “Big Mouth” constitutes child pornography and did not receive a timely response.