Netflix Apologizes After Marketing Of French Film ‘Cuties’ Is Perceived As Sexualizing Children

Netflix apologized on Thursday for its marketing of Cuties, a French film that has been perceived as sexualizing underage girls.

According to the Huffington Post, the film, by French-Senegalese filmmaker Maïmouna Doucouré, won an award at the Sundance Film Festival back in January and is set to be released internationally by Netflix on Sept. 9.

“Cuties” follows an 11-year-old Senegalese immigrant who becomes deeply invested in a risqué dance crew to escape a strict, religious home life. The Hollywood Reporter described the movie as establishing a “critical view of a culture that steers impressionable young girls toward the hyper-sexualization of their bodies.”

It has received both positive and negative reviews, with positive feedback on the performance of the actors and criticism on the plot and pacing. In interviews, Doucouré reportedly has explained that she intended to “investigate the idea of femininity and criticize the effect that sexualized social media imagery can have on children.”

However, the movie has sparked outrage across social media after the marketing materials for the promotion were released this Tuesday, with many criticizing the film’s poster and its description on Netflix: “Amy, 11, becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew. Hoping to join them, she starts to explore her femininity, defying her family’s traditions.”

As of Thursday, multiple petitions asking Netflix to discontinue the release of “Cuties” were posted on Change.Org, with one that had garnered more than 100,000 signatures calling the movie “child pornography.”

In response to the criticism, Netflix announced that the company was “deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork,” holding the stance that it did not represent the movie’s intent. The film received an updated poster and an updated description: “Eleven-year-old Amy starts to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew.”

After Netflix’s apology, others reportedly said that the streaming service’s marketing was to blame, because the original French release of the film, known as “Mignonnes,” received a completely different poster, with no twerking in sight. They argued that the film was taken out of context and that its promotion was highly inappropriate.

Danielle Scott-Haughton, British columnist and director, who frequently writes about race, agreed with this interpretation. She criticized those with hostile reactions who would “rather jeopardize the livelihood of a Black woman than [do] a little research.” She proceeded to share a video of Doucouré, who explained her intentions behind the film.

 

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