Netflix has been facing backlash for their 2020 film “Cuties” for containing lewd depictions of children. The story follows Amy, an 11 year old, who becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew. Hoping to join them, she starts to explore her femininity and defying her family’s traditions.
The film is directed by French-Senegalese director Maïmouna Doucouré, and started streaming on 9 September. More than 200,000 tweets with the hashtag #CancelNetflix became the top trending topic one day later. However, all of this press attention and controversy seems to have made more people decide to watch the film. According to FlixPatrol, on Saturday, September 14, the movie broke into the Netflix top 10 movies chart, reaching a peak of number four on September 12. At the time of writing, the movie is at number five in the Netflix movie charts, making it the second most-watched Netflix original of the day, right behind The Social Dilemma.
In a statement, Netflix said: “Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children. 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.”
Netflix Image promo film for ‘Cuties’ The costumes from the Netflix promo do appear briefly in the trailer, but, in context, you can see them for exactly what they are: costumes for a dance competition. The trailer also shows a scene of the girls laughing and running down the street clutching shopping bags while wearing bras and underwear over their clothing. A still from that scene was the film’s original release poster.
Netflix has since updated the promo image and description and issued an apology for the first iteration. The image for the film now shows just Amy looking over her shoulder in a pink top. (It’s cropped from the still at the top of this post.) The description no longer mentions twerking and instead describes the movie as a story of an 11-year-old girl rebelling against her family after she meets a “free-spirited dance crew.”
“We are ultimately asking the President to instruct the DOJ to investigate Netflix not just for this film, but for its pattern of behavior,” said Melissa Henson, program director of the Parents Television Council, a nonpartisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. “We hope to get Netflix to be more responsible and refrain from sexualizing kids for entertainment going forward.”