A new movie set to be added to the Netflix streaming library is facing a fierce round of backlash weeks before its debut. Cuties, a French film which is scheduled to drop on the streamer Sept. 9, is being accused of sexualizing children and has amassed a 27,000-strong petition seeking for its removal.
The film, titled Mignonnes in France, follows an 11-year-old girl from a traditional Senegalese Muslim household who joins a dance group. In French promotional material, a poster for the film showed a young group of girls tossing shopping bags into the air, though the American version of the poster featured the girls dressed in revealing dance costumes as they stuck various poses. The original synopsis, as many pointed out, read, "Amy, 11, becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew. Hoping to join them, she starts to explore her femininity, defying her family's traditions." It has since been changed to read, "11-year-old Amy starts to rebel against her conservative family's traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew."
After social media took notice of the film's placement on Netflix, the backlash was almost immediate. A Change.org petition calling for its removal has gained more than 56,000 signatures as of this post. That petition writes that Cuties "is disgusting as it sexualizes an ELEVEN year old for the viewing pleasure of pedophiles and also negatively influences our children!" The petition's creator goes on to note that "there is no need for this kind of content in that age group, especially when sex trafficking and pedophilia are so rampant" and "there is no excuse, this is dangerous content!"
Both those signing the petition and those on Twitter seem to agree, blasting the movie and calling for Netflix not to allow it to premiere on its platform. Writing on the petition's page, one person said the film is "disgusting," another adding that "this is sickening" and calling for Netflix to "remove this now!!!!"
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
Responding to the backlash in a statement to Entertainment Tonight, Netflix acknowledged the marketing of the film as "inappropriate" and said that "this was not an accurate representation of the film so the image and description has been updated."
Meanwhile, Maïmouna Doucouré, who wrote and directed the film, previously told Cineuropa that she came up with the concept for Cuties after seeing "a group of young girls aged around 11 years old going up on stage and dancing in a very sensual way while wearing very revealing clothes." Noting that she was "shocked," she said that she wondered if they were "aware of the image of sexual availability that they were projecting."