Cuties outrage sparks calls to 'Cancel Netflix'

Marni Dixit
·Lifestyle & Entertainment Producer
·6-min read

While we've spent much of the year stuck inside our own homes due to the coronavirus pandemic, Netflix has been a saving grace for many, giving us endless hours of entertainment, however, fans are now calling for the streaming giant to be cancelled after the release of controversial film Cuties.

The backlash over the French film is due to many believing it sexualises 11-year-old girls.

Netflix film Cuties
Fans are now calling for Netflix to be cancelled after the release of controversial film Cuties. Photo: Netflix

The film sees a Senegalese girl living in Paris join an all-girl dance group, however, many of the dance moves appear to be overtly sexual.

Netflix was forced to apologise after a poster promoting the movie was also accused of sexualising the young cast.

The poster featured four young skin-bearing girls, some in seductive poses that look straight out of a music video.

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The backlash came quickly online, both through social media as well as a Change.org petition, urging Netflix to remove the title from its service receiving almost 350,000 signatures.

One Twitter user shared a photo of the Netflix description and poster versus IMDb's, showing how vastly different they are, "The thing about the Netflix campaign for Cuties is how disgustingly sexualized these girls are.

Tweet comparing Cuties poster and description on Netflix and IMDb
One tweet compared the Netflix poster and description with IMDb's showing how different they were. Photo: Twitter

"Compare the poster and blurb from Netflix versus the ones on IMDb, s**t is as different as night and day. Someone should get fired."

In a statement on social media Netflix 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 won an award at Sundance. We’ve now updated the pictures and description."

Now, the movie's release has seen #CancelNetflix trending on Twitter with some people comparing the film to pedophilia.

One user wrote, "I don't need to watch Netflix's 'Cuties' to know that they are promoting pedophilia. The trailer was enough!"

Another said, "Cancelling Netflix took only about 15 seconds. Spending my life trying to support adults & children who've endured trauma, I am physically shaking as I type this. Traumatizing children for profit is despicable & criminal & the consequences should fit the crime."

Tweet about cancelling Netflix
Twitter users are calling for people to cancel Netflix following the release of Cuties. Photo: Twitter

Director Robby Starbuck wrote, "Netflix is normalizing pedophilia and the exploitation of children. I know you love your shows and movies but they’re not more important than us all protecting our children. It’s time to #CancelNetflix and send a message."

Former teenage bride Courtney Stodden took to Instagram to share her thoughts on the film, telling her followers, "I just saw Netflix's... what they put up, it's called Cuties, it's apparently a drama/comedy... they're basically distributing child pornography.

"Turkey has banned it, so that's awesome, but the US, it's still up, and it's extremely disturbing.

Tweet about Netflix's Cuties
Director Robby Starbuck shared his thoughts on the film on Twitter. Photo: Twitter

"I usually don't speak out on this stuff... out of fear to speak up," she said, adding she had been "overtly sexualised as a child".

"And seeing the scenes that I've seen, I'm just completely sickened.

"So, Netflix, this is your responsibility, you need to remove this from your platform. Living in a cancel culture, I really don't like jumping on cancel culture bandwagons, but honestly, if you guys don't do something about this, every celebrity needs to come out and speak out for the sake of our children. This is not acceptable.

Courtney Stodden poses for a selfie
Courtney Stodden said she was "sickened" by Netflix's choice to release the film. Photo: Instagram/CourtneyStodden

"Men who are pedophiles, who are predators see this as commercial use and they think it's acceptable to go ahead and groom and prey on our children. And so it's your responsibility to apologise and take this content down."

Cuties is the debut feature of French writer/director Maïmouna Doucouré, who was born in Paris to Senegalese immigrants.

The film was first released to great acclaim at this year's Sundance Film Festival and won the Directing Jury Award.

Girls dancing in Netflix film Cuties
People are upset about the way the young girls in the film copy dance moves performed by older women. Photo: Netflix

Speaking in a video interview featured on the Netflix Film Club YouTube page, Maïmouna said of the film, "Cuties is the story of an 11-year-old girl who is trying to find herself."

"She’s navigating between two models of femininity: one represents her mother’s traditional origins. And the other is a group of young girls called Cuties."

She revealed she was inspired to write the film after seeing an 11-year-old dance troupe that modelled their routines after more adult music videos.

"I was surprised because of their age," she said, adding she met with hundreds of pre-teen girls about growing up in the age of social media.

"Our girls see that the more a woman is overly sexualized on social media, the more she is successful. And the children just imitate what they see, trying to achieve the same result without understanding the meaning. And yeah, it’s dangerous."

Maïmouna Doucouré wearing a purple top and white pants
Maïmouna Doucouré says the film is intended to help young girls and their parents in navigating the transition from childhood into adulthood. Photo: Getty

During a chat with Deadline, the director said following the Netflix poster debacle she received death threats, however, she says the film is intended to help young girls and their parents in navigating the transition from childhood into adulthood.

While critics have given the film a 90 per cent score on Rotten Tomatoes, outraged commentators have dragged the film's Audience Score down to 5 per cent.

Tweet about Rotten Tomatoes rating about Cuties
People have dragged down the film's Rotten Tomatoes rating to just 5 per cent. Photo: Twitter

Netflix has not shared any plans to remove Cuties from their library, and Maïmouna hopes that something positive comes from the film's release.

"I actually hope that those who haven’t seen it, will see it, and I can’t wait to see their reaction," she told Deadline.

"Hopefully they will understand that we’re actually on the same side of this battle. If we join forces, we could make a big change in this world that hyper-sexualizes children."

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