Explained: Why Netflix had to remove the posters for the French film ‘Cuties’

A recent poster released by Netflix to promote the Franco-Senegalese film Cute (Cute) sparked mass outrage, with thousands accusing the online streaming platform of sexualizing young girls and some even demanding a ban on the award-winning film.

Responding to criticism, Netflix on Thursday apologized and announced it was removing the controversial artwork, which featured young girls wearing “skimpy outfits” and posing “provocatively.” However, the site has decided not to remove the film, which is scheduled to be released online on September 9.

“We are deeply sorry for the inappropriate illustrations we have used for Cute / Cuties. It was not correct, nor representative of this French film awarded at Sundance. We have now updated the images and description, ”the streaming giant tweeted Thursday.

What is Cute In regards to?

Cute, entitled Cute en France, is a coming-of-age dramatic comedy written and directed by screenwriter and director Maïmouna Doucouré. The film is about an 11-year-old immigrant girl named Amy who rebels against her conservative Senegalese-Muslim family by joining a dance troupe, known for their daring and sometimes adult dance steps.

Doucouré won the World Cinema Dramatic Directoring Award for the film, when it premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival in January. In an interview with CinEurope, Doucouré – who is herself of Senegalese descent – said that she was inspired to make the film when she saw a group of young girls “take the stage and dance in a very sensual way. while wearing very revealing clothes “.

“It is above all an uncompromising portrait of an 11-year-old girl immersed in a world which imposes a series of diktats on her,” Doucouré told CinEurope. “It was very important not to judge these girls, but above all to understand them, to listen to them, to give them a voice, to take into account the complexity of what they live in society, and all that. in parallel with their childhood which is still there, their imagination, their innocence.

While the film has hit theaters in France, it is slated to be released worldwide on Netflix next month.

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Why is Netflix facing backlash for promoting the film?

Social media users criticized Netflix for promoting the upcoming film using a poster that allegedly sexualized young girls. The streaming giant has been criticized for selecting this particular piece of art for the film’s release, even though the French version of the film used a less controversial poster – in which four young girls are seen throwing shopping bags. in the air.

The trailer for the film also angered social media users, some of whom claimed it would encourage pedophiles and predators. A change.org petition, demanding that the film be banned from Netflix, has so far garnered more than 143,000 signatures.

“This movie / show is disgusting because it sexualizes an eleven year old child for the pleasure of pedophiles and also negatively influences our children!” This kind of content is not necessary in this age group, especially when sex trafficking and pedophilia are so prevalent! There is no excuse, it is dangerous content, ”the petition says.

Netflix was also criticized for the synopsis it uploaded for the film. The film’s synopsis earlier read, “11-year-old Amy becomes fascinated with a twerk dance team. Hoping to join them, she begins to explore her femininity, defying the traditions of her family.

How has Netflix responded to the criticism it faces for “Cuties”?

After facing a wave of criticism, Netflix apologized for sharing the poster and claimed that its choice of artwork warped the film. Speaking to metro.co.uk, a representative for the OTT platform said: “This was not an accurate depiction of the film, so the image and description have been updated.”

Netflix also changed the film’s synopsis to: “Amy, 11, begins to rebel against the traditions of her conservative family when she becomes fascinated by a free-spirited dance team.”

Has Netflix ever been criticized for sexualizing children?

In 2018, a US-based parent group and media watchdog wrote a letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, urging him to immediately pull the Argentine film down. Desire of the streaming platform because it would have represented child pornography.

According to the group, Netflix has shown a “reckless disregard for the millions of families who keep your streaming platform alive and viable, and puts profits above any sense of corporate responsibility, to potentially engage. to criminal activities ”. The film would have shown a young girl masturbating.

That same year, the streaming giant was again criticized by another watchdog called the National Center on Sexual Exploitation for a show called Babe, which would have glamorized the sex trafficking of minors.

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