Twitter users are calling for the ‘cancelation’ of Netflix following the release of its controversial new film Cuties.
This week, Netflix began promoting the film ahead of its September 9 release, but its artwork and decision to stream Cuties has provoked a torrent of online criticism, with many accusing the streaming platform of encouraging the inappropriate sexualisation of children.
On Thursday, the hashtag #CancelNetflix began trending on Twitter after many users claimed that Cuties characterises children suggestively and some called on Netflix viewers to cancel their memberships.
‘The executives at @Netflix need to go to prison,’ one user tweeted.
‘#Netflix is distributing child porn,’ another claimed.
Anyone who instructs children to act in sexual ways is a predator.#Netflix is distributing child porn.— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) September 10, 2020
Filming it is illegal.
Distributing it is illegal.
Purchasing it is illegal.
Where is @TheJusticeDept?
And anyone rationalizing child pornography is complicit.#cancelnetflix
Another, who revealed he and his wife have cancelled their Netflix memberships since viewing the marketing for the film, added: ‘#CancelNetflix Cancel the social engineers!'
A Change.org petition was launched prior to the film's release, calling on the streaming platform to remove it. As of Friday morning, the petition has more than 156,000 signatures.
The film (which is titled Mignonnes in French) follows Amy (played by Fathia Youssouf), an 11-year-old girl who joins a group of dancers named ‘The Cuties’ at her school and increasingly becomes aware of her femininity which goes down badly with her Senegalese family and their conservative values.
In a statement to Variety, a Netflix spokesperson says: 'Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualisation of young children.
'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 — and we’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie.'
The French-language film's writer-director, Maïmouna Doucouré, won the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and the project has widely been praised for its sensitive treatment of topics.
In a six-minute video accompanying the film on Netflix, Doucouré says she met with hundreds of pre-teens to understand their perception of their femininity nowadays.
'Our girls see that the more a woman is sexualised on social media, the more she’s successful,' she notes in Why I Made Cuties. 'And yeah, it’s dangerous.'
Last month, Netflix publicly apologised for the marketing of its forthcoming controversial new film Cuties, describing it as ‘inappropriate’.
The original Netflix poster featured four young girls dressed in revealing outfits doing provocative dance moves. The post was in stark contrast to the film’s theatrical release by distributor Bac Films, which sees the main protagonists dancing in the street with shopping bags.
Demain à 14h au cinéma @lefiguierblanc à @VilleArgenteuil, ciné-rencontre de rentrée : #Mignonnes – en présence de la réalisatrice #MaïmounaDoucouré !@BAC_FILMS #mignonneslefilm pic.twitter.com/0g3EWcH9jo— ACRIF (@_ACRIF_) September 3, 2020
Netflix has since removed the artwork and replaced it with an alternative.
‘We’re deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Cuties,’ the apologetic statement from the streaming platform reads on Twitter.
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.— Netflix (@netflix) August 20, 2020
‘It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which premiered at Sundance. We’ve now updated the pictures and description.’
While Cuties has been criticised, actress Tessa Thompson has spoken out in defence of the film, describing it as ‘beautiful’.
‘The film comments on the hyper-sexualization of preadolescent girls,’ she tweeted last month. ‘Disappointed to see the current discourse.’
#CUTIES is a beautiful film. It gutted me at @sundancefest. It introduces a fresh voice at the helm. She’s a French Senegalese Black woman mining her experiences. The film comments on the hyper-sexualization of preadolescent girls. Disappointed to see the current discourse. 😞— Tessa Thompson (@TessaThompson_x) August 20, 2020
In defence of the film, a review on the Independent reads: ‘Cuties is a movie about girls and the culture that sexualises them. It is, crucially, not a movie in favour of hypersexualisation.
‘Just because a work of art depicts something, that doesn’t mean it’s advocating for it. If that were the case, no thriller would ever get written – no rape scene, no burglary even, would ever be depicted on screen.’
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