Social media users are calling for a controversial new French film to be removed from Netflix. Critics argue the coming-of-age film, which follows a group of adolescent dancers in Paris, is overly sexualising young girls.
Netflix’s new film Cuties, also known by its French title ‘Mignonnes’ was directed by Maïmouna Doucouré and tells the story of Amy, an 11-year-old Muslim Senegalese immigrant who moves into a housing project in Paris. She befriends a group of bold girls who form a dance team, and as Amy joins the team she struggles to follow her family’s wishes to be modest and obedient.
The film successfully premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival earlier in the year, but was caught up in a wave of controversy in August after Netflix premiered a different poster and description for the film. The original French poster depicting the girls having fun while shopping was changed to them striking ‘provocative’ poses during a dance routine
There’s two posters for cuties. Netflix used the worst one imaginable and described the movie horribly. pic.twitter.com/rIek28Zxff
— lyle abner (@lyleabner) September 10, 2020
According to Vulture, Netflix described the film on their page as: “Amy, 11, becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew. Hoping to join them, she starts to explore her femininity, defying her family’s traditions.”
Social media users accused the film of promoting the sexualisation of children and accused Netflix of promoting pedophilia.
The film’s director, Doucouré explains that the Netflix poster was out of her control, and she has become a target since its release.
“I discovered the poster at the same time as the American public,” she told Deadline. “I hadn’t seen the poster until after I started getting all these reactions on social media, direct messages from people, attacks on me. I didn’t understand what was going on. That was when I went and saw what the poster looked like. 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 hyper-sexualization of children. I also received numerous death threats.”
She explains she created the film to “explore what it means to approach womanhood between two cultures as well as the wider theme of the hyper-sexualization of youngsters in modern society”.
Netflix has since apologised for the poster and admitted it does not represent the film well. They have updated to reflect the original poster with a new description that reads, “”Eleven-year-old Amy starts to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew.”
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 premiered on Netflix on Wednesday [September 9], prompting a new wave of social media backlash. People have given the film terrible reviews on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes to ruin its ratings. Petitions have since been created to urge the streaming service to remove the film from their platform, and others are threatening to cancel their Netflix subscription entirely. #CancelNetflix was the top trending topic in the United States on Thursday, September 10.
— Gracià⁹ | stan kyunsoo (@oshskrrt) September 11, 2020
Over 600,000 ppl have signed a Change petition pledging to cancel their #Netflix subscriptions.
If each signee had an account & canceled, at $12.99 a month, this would be $7.8 million MONTHLY that @Netflix has lost.
That’s $93 million a year.
Keep canceling! #CancelNetflix
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) September 10, 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