Netflix Defends ‘Cuties’ as ‘Social Commentary Against the Sexualization of Young Children’

#CancelNetflix began trending this week in response to the French film’s release on streaming service

Last Updated: September 12, 2020 @ 5:39 PM

Netflix has defended its newly launched French film “Cuties” in the wake of backlash on social media, saying the movie is “a social commentary against the sexualization of young children.”

“‘Cuties’ is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to TheWrap Friday. “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 #CancelNetflix hashtag jumped to the top of Twitter’s trending section on Thursday morning, as some users complained the French film “Cuties,” which just hit the service on Wednesday with a MA (mature audiences) rating, depicts a hyper-sexualized view of minors and promotes pedophilia. The hashtag gained momentum after a scene from the film, showing young girls dancing in a suggestive manner in front of adult spectators, was shared on Twitter.

Directed by Maïmouna Doucouré, “Cuties” focuses on Amy, an 11-year-old Senegalese girl who forms a twerking dance group with her other young friends. After being “bombarded with hyper-sexualized imagery,” Amy “envisions a dance routine, featuring grinding and twerking, that’s sure to be deemed inappropriate but that, in her mind, will put to rest the notion that she and her friends are children,” according to TheWrap’s review.

The backlash was spurred after the following clip from the movie was shared:

“Cuties,” which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, started receiving criticism even before it was released, with the movie’s poster spurring outrage last month from some people who saw it as sexualizing children.

“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,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement at the time.

Earlier this month, Doucouré said she received death threats after the American poster for the film was released by Netflix. Doucouré said the poster mischaracterized what the movie is about.

“I received numerous attacks on my character from people who had not seen the film, who thought I was actually making a film that was apologetic about hypersexualization of children,” she said to Deadline, adding that she received “numerous” death threats. “We had several discussions back and forth after this happened. Netflix apologized publicly, and also personally to me.”

Doucouré told TheWrap at the Sundance Film Festival in January that her film mirrors her experience as a young girl when she wanted to be a boy because of the “injustices” towards women she saw around her. Watch the full interview below.