A petition against the release of ‘Cuties’ Netflix has amassed 30,000 signatures following outrage after the OTT platform released posters of the film which appeared to sexualise teen girls.
- Last Updated: August 21, 2020, 5:04 PM IST
After the global controversy regarding the Netflix show Indian matchmaking, the OTT platform seems to have run into more serious trouble after it was accused of sexualizing a poster of an award-winning French film ‘Cuties’ featuring a group of teenage girls.
As the poster caused outrage, several persons have been seeking a ban on the release of the film. A petition against the film’s release on the OTT platform has amassed 30,000 signatures. As outrage grew, Netflix even responded to the controversy and apologised for the poster.
Demands for a halt in the film’s release have nevertheless sustained.
Why are people angry with Netflix?
Netflix recently released a poster for the French film Cuties (‘Mignonnes’), directed by Senegalese director Maïmouna Doucouré. But the poster instantly attracted negative attention as it showed a group of five teenage girls in poses that many felt were sexualised and suggestive. Following the poster and the accompanying trailer, a petition was launched on Change.org, seeking a stop to the film’s release on Netflix, set for a September 9. Many of the petitioners felt that the film was problematic for its sexualised representation of teenage girls when taking into consideration the high prevalence of paedophilia and child-trafficking. Some also felt that the film may have a negative impact on teenagers.
Why is ‘Cuties’ creating controversy?
Cuties is a French-Senegalese film that was first released at the reputed Sundance Film Festival this year and won its Senegalese director Maïmouna Doucouré a critics’ choice award. Her debut film, ‘Cuties’ is a coming of age film that follows the life of a Muslim-Senegalese teen Amy. “Eleven-year-old Amy starts to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew,” the film’s description on Netflix reads. By the film’s director’s own admission, the film was based on a scene she had witnessed where a group of young girls were performing for their family in what appeared to be a rather sensuous performance, Vanity Fair reported.
“In a moment, a group of dancers come on the stage and dance. It was very fascinating but at the same time very disturbing because they were only 11 years old, but they were dancing with very sensual dance, wearing clothes that were very short,” Doucouré had said at Sundance earlier in January. It was this performance that has inspired the film.
READ: Audi Apologises for ‘Inappropriate’ Ad Featuring Little Girl Eating a Banana after Outrage
Does ‘Cuties’ sexualise children?
Cuties opened to positive critics’ reviews in Sundance due to its succinct portrayal of a sensitive topic. The film focuses on the very private experiences of a young girl who has grown up in a traditional family but is seduced by the overtly sexualised “dance clique” that her friend runs. The film tries to critically analyse a media culture and society that pushes or inspires young and impressionable girls to sexualisation. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film “establishes its critical view of a culture that steers impressionable young girls toward the hyper-sexualization of their bodies”. Screen Daily also felt that the film was for mature audiences and “explicitly designed to shock mature audiences into contemplation of today’s destruction of innocence”.
Originally titled Mignonnes, the largely well-received French-language film premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, won the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award. If anything, the film appears to be a comment on the hyper-sexualisation of children, the very thing that critics are objecting to. It was well-received for its mature handling of hyper-sensitive topics.
While the posters that Netflix apologised for may have been problematic, calling for a ban on the release of the film itself feels like an imposition on freedom of artistic expression by a filmmaker.
How has Netflix responded to the controversy?
In light of the controversy, Netflix has apologised for the sexualised poster and promotional content that it released for the film. “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”, it said in a tweet on Thursday.
The film is nevertheless set for release on September 9.
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