Video streaming giants, Netflix is facing a growing backlash following the release of the pre-teen dance competition film Cuties. The debut of the movie sparked a trending #CancelNetflix hashtag on Twitter as critics accuse the company of sexualizing children and promoting paedophilia.
The hashtag “#CancelNetflix” was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter in the U.S. Thursday, and No.3 in Nigeria on Friday after “Cuties” premiered Sept. 9 on Netflix.
Why #CancelNetflix is Trending
The controversial French film “Cuties” is about a young Senegalese girl in Paris who joins a “free-spirited dance clique” known as Mignonnes to escape family dysfunction.
The movie which depicts 11 years olds in a highly sexualized manner has raised a growing backlash led by the hashtag #CancelNetflix. Groups of conservatives, QAnon supporters, and others on social media have rallied calling for people to cancel their Netflix subscriptions and sell its share.
The movement gained traction as several people tweeted screenshots of their cancelled subscriptions while some said they were going to sell their share in the company.
Following the trend, Netflix stocks fell yesterday to close at $4832.02
The release also sparked a petition to cancel the movie. A petition on Change.org calling on Netflix customers to cancel their subscriptions over “Cuties” currently has nearly 620,817 signers.
Netflix Defends Cuties
The criticism for the Cuties movie Directed by Maïmouna Doucouré, didnt start this week. In August, critics erupted over a promotional poster for “Cuties” depicting its young cast members in provocative poses and revealing costumes.
“Cuties” (“Mignonnes”) premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, where writer-director Maïmouna Doucouré won the world cinema dramatic directing award
A critic wrote that Cuties exhibits “uncomfortable images to provoke a serious conversation about the sexualization of girls — especially regarding girls of colour, the policing of a girl’s sexuality, double standards, the effect of social media on kids, and how children learn these behaviours,”
Doucouré’s, however, defended her movie saying her intent is to show “that children should have the time to be children”. She explained in TIME magazine interview that in using imagery about exploited youth, she wanted to hit home just how important innocence is, and how much it’s taken for granted today.
Following the backlash of the poster, Netflix apologised for the image saying its a misinterpretation of what the movie meant.
“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 won an award at Sundance.”
It also defended the movie, saying the movie is a ‘Social Commentary’ against the sexualization of young children. Netflix encouraged critics to watch the movie.
The earlier description of the movie on Netflix didn’t help the matter. Although it has since been changed the initial description said “Amy, 11, becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew. Hoping to join them, she starts to explore her femininity, defying her family’s traditions.”
Now the “Cuties” description on Netflix reads, “Eleven-year-old Amy starts to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew.”
Speaking on Netflix response, Melissa Henson, program director for the PTC Conservative advocacy group Parents Television Council said “By removing the offensive poster and replacing it with a more innocuous one, Netflix might actually have made the situation worse by suggesting that ‘Cuties’ is nothing more than a cute, coming-of-age movie,”
Not the first…
In retrospect, this is not the first time that Netflix has produced content accused of endorsing the sexualization of children. In 2018, the teen Italian drama Baby was accused of glorifying the sex trafficking of teenagers.
Netflix secured global streaming rights to the film. The movie was translated into more than 40 languages and would stream in 190 different territories that Netflix operates in, excluding France where it had domestic distribution.
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