Have you heard about "Cuties?" It's a French film, streaming on Netflix whose description reads thusly: "Amy, 11, becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew. Hoping to join them, she starts to explore her femininity, defying her family's traditions."
What has people up in arms is the poster Netflix chose to promote the film (originally called Mignonnes, directed by Maïmouna Doucouré) which hypersexualizes pre-teen girls. Allison Mitchell was so enraged by it, she started a change.org petition to have the film removed. Her reason for demanding the removal is below:
"This movie/show is disgusting as it sexualizes an ELEVEN-year-old for the viewing pleasure of pedophiles and also negatively influences our children! There is no need for this kind of content in that age group, especially when sex trafficking and pedophilia are so rampant! There is no excuse, this is dangerous content!"
The petition currently has more than 170,000 signatures at the time of this writing.
Netflix has since apologized for the poster and has taken it down, but won't withdraw the film for its service.
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
Ironically, the film is far from controversial. On the contrary, it is calling to attention the very things the Change.org petition claims.
The French site madmoiZelle heralds the movie as being a subtle feminist one, and aptly depicts a coming-of-age tale. In one paragraph, (translated) the review describes the subjects the movies is facing head on:
"The complex subject of the hypersexualization of pre-teen girls is at the heart of the film the damage that can be caused by the appropriation of sexual codes by children who do not have sufficient education to take stock of their actions is not overlooked."
In other words, the very thing the change.org petition is upset about is the very thing the film also condemns.
The problem lies with Netflix's poster choice and one that was most likely calculated to generate the PR for it. Judging by the rabid reaction, it appears to have worked. Whether people will watch is a different story. It will also be interesting to see whether the words Netflix and pedophilia will now be linked.