Hollywood After Weinstein: Powerful Netflix Democrat Donor Ted Sarandos Defends French ‘Cuties’ Film, Says It’s Just ‘Storytelling’

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Written by Dana Sanchez
Cuties
Hollywood After Weinstein: Powerful Netflix Democrat Donor Ted Sarandos Defends French ‘Cuties’ Film, Says It’s Just ‘Storytelling’. Photo: Cuties’ Netflix poster

Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos likened criticism of the streaming service’s newly debuted film, “Cuties,” to “censoring storytelling,” Los Angeles Times reported.

Critics have accused the award-winning French film of sexualizing young girls. Directed by Maïmouna Doucouré, the film tells the story of an 11-year-old Senegalese immigrant in France who rebels against conservative family values and joins a “free-spirited dance crew.”

“Cuties” won the Directing Award in the World Cinema Dramatic category at the Sundance Film Festival festival earlier this year.

The way the girls dance in the film — some describe it as twerking — and the girls’ costumes made some viewers uncomfortable.

“It’s a little surprising in 2020 America that we’re having a discussion about censoring storytelling,” Sarandos said Monday at a virtual Mipcom marketing event, according to Deadline. “It’s a film that is very misunderstood with some audiences, uniquely within the United States.”

Los Angeles Times culture critic Mary McNamara rejected the idea that “Cuties” is about a girl coming to terms with her sexuality.

“What I found was a film about rage,” McNamara wrote a September column. “That sudden, inchoate, unidentifiable female fury that rises in so many girls, often self-destructively, when they realize that certain rules are not about protecting them but controlling them.

“‘Cuties’ is not about a girl coming to terms with her sexuality; sexuality doesn’t factor into any of her actions,” McNamara wrote. “It’s about a girl coming to terms with the nature of power and her immediate, and potentially lifelong, lack of it.”

“Cuties” director Doucouré told Deadline in September that she’d had her character attacked by people who had not seen the film.

Some of the loudest — and crudest — voices against the film came from men on social media. 

Netflix has been the target of a cancel campaign by conservative viewers who objected to the film, saying it amounts to child porn that sexualizes children. More than 660,000 people signed a Change.org petition titled “Cancel Netflix subscription,” accusing the film of exploiting children.

Conservative activists say “Cuties” is a “by-product of an overly liberal culture often associated with Hollywood — and that it promotes pedophilia,” Agence France-Presse reported. “Republicans have also pointed out that Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings is a significant Democratic donor.”

Sarandos and his music producer wife, Nicole Avant, raised at least $500,000 for Obama’s 2012 reelection, CNBC reported.

The film speaks for itself, Sarandos said.

“It’s a very personal coming-of-age film. It’s the director’s story, and the film has obviously played very well at Sundance without any of this controversy and played in theaters throughout Europe without any of this controversy.”

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A Texas grand jury this month charged the streaming giant with “promoting material in ‘Cuties’ film which depicts lewd exhibition of pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 yrs of age which appeals to the prurient interest in sex.”

The film had “no serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value,” the grand jury decided.

“Why no individuals indicted? People need to be in prison for this,” IronBarrister tweeted.

Other Twitter users called hypocrisy for indicting Netflix over a film that capitalizes on child dancers in provocative poses when child pageants do the same legally.