#Netflix is coming to defend its new French film #Cuties, and critics are still calling for the boycott of the film as well as the mega streaming service.
The controversial film tells the story of a young Senegalese girl in Paris who joins a “free-spirited dance clique” to get away from her dysfunctional family. Since its release on the site, it has become the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter in the U.S. with the hashtag #CancelNetflix and has prompted a petition on Change.org, calling for Netflix customers to cancel their subscription. The petition, which now has nearly 600,000 signatures, says “Cuties” and other content on the site exploits “children and creates a disturbing vibe. Naysayers feel the film oversexualized young girls, highlighting that the film and imagery show the girls using profanities, posing sexually, and acting out mature scenes.
The drama surrounding the film first started back in August when the promotional poster for “Cuties” dropped. At the time, Netflix issued an apology statement that said: We’re deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for ‘Mignonnes’/’Cuties. It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film, which premiered at Sundance. We’ve now updated the pictures and description.” Conservative advocacy group Parents Television Council said in a statement Thursday that after watching the film, it “stands by its earlier criticism that the TV-MA-rated film sexualizes children.”
The statement from Melissa Henson, program director for the PTC, continued: “By removing the offensive poster and replacing it with a more innocuous one, Netflix might actually have made the situation worse by suggesting that ‘Cuties’ is nothing more than a cute, coming-of-age movie. Although the film tackles an important topic — one that under different circumstances we might even applaud — it’s the way the film goes about it that’s problematic. This film could have been a powerful rebuke of popular culture that sexualizes children and robs them of their innocence.”
In response to all the backlash, French Senegalese filmmaker #MaïmounaDoucouré said the film was created to shed light on the pressures young girls face during their upbringing in regard to their sexuality and bodies. To the critics, Doucouré says: Just watch the movie. “I’m eager to see their reaction when they realize that we’re both on the same side of this fight against young children’s hypersexualization,” said Doucouré, who wrote and directed the film. She added that the film is “a social commentary against the sexualization of young children.”
Netflix ended up changing its tune saying that the film is a “powerful story.” “It’s an award-winning film, and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up. We’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie,” said Netflix in a statement.