11th Sep 2020
Why is #CancelNetflix trending? Netflix has done French film ‘Cuties’ a disservice with an ill-advised poster and description that has muddied the message of the coming-of-age story
Last month, Netflix apologised and removed a poster for the French film Mignonnes (or Cuties in English) after widespread backlash to the hyper-sexualising of children.
The French version of the poster showed a group of children with shopping bags. The Netflix poster depicted a group of children twerking in cheerleader outfits, with a description that said the protagonist Amy “becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew” and in an attempt to join them, she “starts to explore her femininity, defying her family’s traditions”. Netflix has now deleted this description.
If you are wondering how Netflix could have made such an ill-advised faux-pas by choosing to platform a film that Twitter is calling “morally and ethically reprehensible”, they haven’t really. Naturally, because of the Internet, the poster’s lack of context has led Cuties to be criticised of the very thing the film is against, and there have been over 200,000 tweets calling to #CancelNetflix. There’s also a petition demanding the film be removed from the platform, which has received more than 350,000 signatures.
Directed by French-Senegalese director Maimouna Doucoure, Cuties, which received a director’s award at Sundance Film Festival, started streaming on September 9. Cuties follows 11-year-old Parisian Amy (Fathia Youssouf), in a coming-of-age story about a young girl finding her place in the world between social media’s pressures, a conservative model of femininity under her Senegalese family and the liberated version of her dancing friends.
Actress Tessa Thompson (Avengers: Endgame) has praised the film, saying it “gutted” her at Sundance Film Festival. “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. Disappointed to see how it was positioned in terms of marketing. I understand the response of everybody. But it doesn’t speak to the film I saw.”
“Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualisation of young children,” said a Netflix spokesperson. “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.”
Photography by Netflix.
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