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Netflix Defends Cuties As ‘Social Commentary’ Against Sexualisation Of Young Children

by : Lucy Connolly on : 12 Sep 2020 12:07
Netflix Defends Cuties As ‘Social Commentary’ Against Sexualisation Of Young ChildrenNetflix Defends Cuties As ‘Social Commentary’ Against Sexualisation Of Young ChildrenNetflix

Amid a wave of backlash that saw hundreds of thousands of people calling to boycott Netflix over the sexualised portrayal of children in French drama Cuties, the streaming service has defended the movie.

Last month, Netflix released its initial marketing materials for the film, which was recently released in French cinemas under the name Mignonnes. The film follows an 11-year-old Senegalese girl who joins a ‘free-spirited dance clique’ – the ‘Cuties’ – to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions.

But while the original poster showed a group of children running along the street with shopping bags, Netflix’s poster was far less innocent and sparked widespread outcry, with viewers complaining in their masses about the over-sexualised depiction of the group of young girls.

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Cuties Poster NetflixCuties Poster NetflixNetflix

This outrage has only increased since the film’s release on the streaming service on September 9, with more than 200,000 tweets containing the hashtag #CancelNetflix becoming the top trending topic in the days following.

This widespread boycott has led Netflix to stand up for the values of the film, which it says makes a statement about the pressures young girls face growing up – particularly with regards to female sexuality and social media.

A Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to Variety:

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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.

Cuties NetflixCuties NetflixNetflix

Director Maimouna Doucouré had already explained this, telling viewers the film is intended to tackle the sexualisation of children in today’s society – clearly an important and extremely necessary topic to tackle.

However, with its inappropriate artwork – which Netflix later said was ‘not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which won an award at Sundance – the streaming service gave the wrong message and as such viewers were given the wrong impression of the film.

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New Yorker contributor Richard Brody said Netflix did itself a disservice with the ‘misleading’ marketing, writing: ‘The subject of Cuties isn’t twerking.’

‘It’s children, especially poor and nonwhite children, who are deprived of the resources — the education, the emotional support, the open family discussion — to put sexualised media and pop culture into perspective,’ he continued.

Mignonnes Cuties PosterMignonnes Cuties PosterBac Films

It’s therefore necessary to aim any outrage you feel at the bad marketing, not the movie, which Doucouré has previously stressed is intended to discuss the uncomfortable and dangerous reality that girls are forced into at an early age.

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Cuties is now available to stream on Netflix.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Film and TV, Cuties, Film, Maimouna Doucouré, Netflix, Now, Sexuality

Credits

Variety and 1 other
  1. Variety

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

  2. New Yorker

    “Cuties,” the Extraordinary Netflix Début That Became the Target of a Right-Wing Campaign