Netflix is currently facing a ton of backlash and criticism for one of the newest titles added to its catalog – the French film Cuties (Mignonnes). Thousands took to Twitter to express their dismay over it being given a worldwide platform. The hashtag #CancelNetflix trended with angry netizens condemning the film’s overt sexualization of its young stars and its suggestive scenes.
The story follows the life of 11-year-old Amy who, once she joins a group of free-spirited dancers, begins to defy her family’s values and morals. It could’ve been a classic coming-of-age movie — it was actually intended to be such — but it obviously fell short of its own expectations. Disgusted netizens have been encouraging everyone else to end their Netflix subscriptions and boycott the streaming giant.
The film won an award at the Sundance Film Festival
Back in August, Netflix released its US and international poster for Cuties which depicted four girls all dressed in skimpy outfits. After criticism, Netflix retracted the poster and send out an apology.
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
The film was written and directed by French-Senegalese Maimouna Doucoure. It won the world cinema dramatic directing award and was nominated for the world cinema dramatic grand jury prize at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. It was also nominated for the best film for the Generation Prize and the best film for the Crystal Bear award at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Netflix refuses to remove the film from its catalog
— Alternative Beta (@alternativebeta) September 11, 2020
But despite the angry online mob, Netflix says the film is there to stay.
According to Variety, the streaming giant is even encouraging the film’s critics to try watching before commenting. They described the film as “a social commentary against the sexualization of young children” and “a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media up.”
What kind of backward thinking is being done here? Many argue that the film has done quite the opposite of being a social commentary against the exploitation of children (there were other less explicit ways to express that). Instead, it is being heavily accused of child pornography, child exploitation, and encouraging pedophilia. One netizen pointed out that the Sundance Film Festival win was a little questionable since its co-founder, Sterling Van Wagenen, is a known child abuser having been sentenced for the sexual abuse of a 9-year-old girl. Why then would Netflix still not remove a film that people feel so strongly against?
— Gracià⁹ | stan kyunsoo (@oshskrrt) September 11, 2020
What happened #Netflix ? Like seriously? Children must be protected from abusive thing such as like this. Violence against children takes many forms. It can be physical, emotional or SEXUAL.
The world is officially fucked. This is worst! #CancelNetflix pic.twitter.com/C3b3Z2x96R
— Gothicaiza (@gothicaiza) September 11, 2020
When the American advocacy group the Parents Television Council (PTC) reviewed the film, it found explicit scenes such as one where Amy pulls her shorts down to take photos of her genitals and post it on social media. PTC, along with thousands of people, are worried that the film is normalizing the “sexualization of little girls” and “desensitizing millions of viewers at home by asking them to be entertained by it.”
Where do we draw the line on art?
The people calling Cuties art should be asking themselves where do we draw the line?
What has to happen in a movie or television show that makes you uncomfortable enough to say the sexualization of children has gone too far?#CancelNetflix
— special agent viti (@selfdeclaredref) September 10, 2020
Art should be free to express a near-limitless range of experiences relevant to the human condition… but there is a big, fat, fucking line that you don’t cross, and that is sexualizing children.
— Southpooh (@BlessedSouthpaw) September 10, 2020
Child abuse and exploitation disguised under the name of freedom of expression and art will never be acceptable. As one Twitter user said about those encouraging this, “We have no time for niceties while children are being sexualized for mass entertainment.”
The call to unsubscribe
About to end a decade long relationship with @netflix
As a dad of an 11 y.o. daughter, this is so unacceptable.
Their stubborn defense of it is what’s costing them another customer.
— HilesFiles (@MichaelHiles) September 11, 2020
— Jake Coco 💙🇺🇸🎶🐻 (@jakecoco) September 11, 2020
— KC (@PyschoBlue) September 11, 2020
A film starring 11-year-olds with an 18+ rating is the very definition of suspicious.
Where were the adults the entire time this was being filmed?
Do you know how sets work? I do. I’ve directed some of the biggest stars in the world. A director on the Cuties set and a choreographer told 11 year olds to simulate sexual moves repeatedly. What they did should have them charged and registered as sex offenders. #CancelNetflix
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) September 10, 2020
— 🥚 (@TABADAlizza) September 11, 2020
The 11 year old girls who were sexually exploited filming Cuties shot those scenes in front of a director, a DP, a gaffer, their parents, a choreographer, a MUA, a hair person, a camera assistant, a wardrobe person, extras and more. Not one adult protected them. #CancelNetflix
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) September 11, 2020
Many want the adults behind the movie to be held responsible. Surely in the six months that they have spent filming, there would be instances where they realized the gravity of what they were doing. And what about the parents of the girls who obviously gave their consent for their daughters to twerk and dance suggestively?
Netflix stock values dip
… building a reputation takes years … and demolishing it takes minutes pic.twitter.com/Mq8cWFY5Ho
— aza mohamad (@azamohamad5) September 11, 2020
It’s difficult to tell whether the mass unsubscribing over the call to #CancelNetflix is responsible for this plummet but the internet is taking it as a win anyway. This might be just a small amount of money lost for the streaming giant but it shows that, when angered enough, the general public could be powerful.
But many people are also defending it
#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
The internet is divided in its views about the controversial film. The minority, including Avengers actress Tessa Thompson, find the film “beautiful.” While they do say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, this time, the beholder needs to think objectively. It’s heartening to see many people aware and are fighting for issues like these instead of gobbling down every piece of entertainment placed in front of them. Maybe this backlash would discourage filmmakers from creating similar films in the future.
What are your thoughts on the film and #CancelNetflix?