Cuties, the French film streaming on Netflix, is drawing major controversy and anger over the objectification of children. Politicians, led by Sen. Ted Cruz, want the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate Netflix.
Titled Mignonnes in France, Cuties centers on an 11-year-old Senegalese immigrant in Paris who joins a dance group to gain social media popularity. Critics, however, decry the trailer showing the kids performing suggestive dances and wearing risque outfits.
Netflix’s poster also sparked a backlash as it featured four young girls in crop tops and short shorts while posing immodestly. Watch groups slammed the streamer’s depiction of the children and went after Netflix’s original description of the film on its platform.
In a letter sent to the DOJ Friday, Cruz wrote that clips from the movie could be used by pedophiles in “abusive ways.” He also expressed fears over the movie’s production.
“It is likely that the filming of this movie created even more explicit and abusive scenes, and that [predators] across the world in the future will manipulate and imitate this film in abusive ways,” the senator wrote.
Sen. Tulsi Gabbard said Netflix was being complicit about child trafficking. Senators Tom Cotton and Jim Banks are also asking the DOJ to sanction the streaming platform.
Positive reviews at the Sundance
But Cuties received generally positive reviews and won awards at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2020. Several months later, the tide changed for director/writer Maïmouna Doucouré and her film when Netflix did the promotions in August.
Netflix acquired Cuties in April. The steamer apologized to Doucouré for its botched marketing strategy. The company subsequently also apologized to the public for the poster and the film’s description on its platform.
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
Doucouré explains her the award-winning film
Doucouré said that she found about the Netflix poster just like everyone else — when it blew up on social media. She admitted receiving attacks and death threats from people who have not seen her movie but based their anger over Netflix’s marketing.
The director said that she did a full year of research before making the Cuties. Her intention was to show the effects of social media on young girls, and she is also in the fight to stop their objectification.
“The main message of Cuties is that these young girls should have the time to be children, to enjoy their childhood, and have the time to choose who they want to be when they are adults,” Doucouré said.
Netflix released Cuties for its subscribers on Sept. 9, 2020.
Image courtesy of Netflix/YouTube