Netflix is the target of a cancel campaign by conservative viewers who object to the newly released French film, “Cuties,” saying it amounts to child porn that sexualizes children.
They are canceling their Netflix accounts and urging liberals and moderates to join them, Deseret News reported.
“Cuties” or “Mignonnes” is the story of an 11-year-old Muslim girl from a conservative family who becomes involved in a dance crew that twerks.
Netflix picked the film up after its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Directing Award in the World Cinema Dramatic category earlier this year.
The Twitter campaign against Netflix started after the film’s trailer was released in August, New York Post reported. However, Netflix is standing by the movie, recommending that critics actually watch it before condemning it.
The film was described by Netflix as a coming-of-age story about a girl from Senegal. It was directed and written by Senegalese filmmaker Maïmouna Doucouré, and it reflects part of Doucouré’s life.
Doucouré grew up in France with traditional parents from Senegal and said that in “Cuties” she explores the question of whether we should “have the right to choose which women we can be in this world.”
Netflix apologized for a promotional poster of the film that featured four girls in suggestive poses, issuing a new poster.
“We’re deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for ‘Cuties.’ It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which premiered at Sundance. We’ve now updated the pictures and description,” the Netflix statement said, as reported by Deadline.
The film’s director said she received death threats because of the poster, which was released only in the U.S.
“’Cuties’ is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” a Netflix spokesperson told the New York Post. “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.”
On Twitter, Mary Margaret Olohan tweeted, “Netflix is comfortable with this. Plenty of people will defend it. This is where our culture is at.”
In response to Mary Margaret, B tweeted, “Honestly, ask yourself why when you watch little girls dance your first words that come to mind are slut, provocative, lewd. The real problem are the disgusting lewd acts you do for god knows how many men. Those are lil girls no matter which way they try to twist or turn. Period.”
While he didn’t exactly defend “Cuties”, conservative commentator Glenn Beck found it presented an opportunity to criticize school sex education.
“Everybody’s rushing to #CancelNetflix over “Cuties.” But as I revealed last night, what schools across America are now trying to pass off as “sex-ed” (starting in elementary school!) is EVEN WORSE! And your kid doesn’t need a Netflix subscription to see it” Beck tweeted.
At least 613,000 people have signed a Change.org petition titled “Cancel Netflix subscription,” accusing the film of exploiting children.
“From cuties to Big Mouth to other movies mocking religions and exploiting children Netflix is no longer the family friendly streaming service I one believed it to be!” wrote Kelsi Swift, who started the petition.
Director Doucouré said she was inspired to create the film after attending an amateur talent show in Paris.
“There were these girls onstage dressed in a really sexy fashion in short, transparent clothes,” she told ScreenDaily. “They danced in a very sexually suggestive manner. There also happened to be a number of African mothers in the audience. I was transfixed, watching with a mixture of shock and admiration. I asked myself if these young girls understood what they were doing.”
New Yorker film critic Richard Brody said “Cuties” highlights an issue that conservatives care deeply about: the welfare of children in a sexualized culture.
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“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 sexualized media and pop culture into perspective,” Brody wrote.
Conservative columnist and podcaster Matt Walsh wrote that the film “is a commentary on child sexual exploitation in the same way that ‘Texas Chainsaw Massacre’ is a commentary on violence in film. Which is to say, it is not a commentary at all. It is a gratuitous exhibition of the thing it supposedly means to criticize.”
“More than one person has observed that it’s ironic that at the Republican National Convention, conservatives were decrying ‘cancel culture‘ while this week they’re canceling Netflix,” Jennifer Graham wrote for the Deseret News.