Cuties by French director Maïmouna Doucouré has been the subject of much controversy since plans to release the film were announced by Netflix. The movie depicts the life of an 11-year-old Senegalese girl living in Paris who joins a freestyle dance crew and enters a competition where the group of girls decide to perform a dance routine that is highly sexualized.
While Netflix admitted that the movie’s promotional images did a poor job to reflect the social commentary that the french director was going for, the actual movie is still the cause of a great divide. Netflix’s defense is that the film is a “social commentary” on the increasingly sexualized imagery that is prevalent in today’s world and is consumed by minors.
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However, many who have seen the film maintain that it is at best a terrible handling of a sensitive subject matter and at worst, child exploitation. Given that the film does have minors engage in provocative dance routines, the line here is blurry regardless of how you may feel about the film’s messaging or what contract the children’s parents signed.
The pedophilia problem
Netflix declines to comment to me on the 187% spike in visits to their cancellation page following "Cuties" release.
— Mary Margaret Olohan (@MaryMargOlohan) September 17, 2020
All these problems resulted in #CancelNetflix trending worldwide on Twitter and now a private firm has revealed that the hashtag did more damage than anyone could have expected. According to data compiled by YipitData, on Saturday, Sept. 12, Netflix’s cancellation rate in the U.S. jumped to nearly eight times higher than the average daily levels recorded in August 2020 — reaching a multiyear high, the data-analytics provider told Variety.
With the #CancelNetflix hashtag continuing to trend on social media, it is possible more cancellations could continue in the coming days. It is unclear how seismic these cancellations will be for the streamer and if this is something that would be a problem globally.
Netflix Adds Warning Before 'Cuties' That It Is A Product Of Its Time When People Didn't Know Any Better https://t.co/IvrsH2R7qg
— The Babylon Bee (@TheBabylonBee) September 16, 2020
In the US, the anti-“Cuties” campaign has been linked to the QAnon conspiracy and disinformation movement. Several Republican U.S. politicians have stoked the flames of the backlash, including Sen. Ted Cruz. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a statement as well demanding Netflix to remove “Cuties” from its platform “due to the movie’s disturbing sexualization of children as well as its offensive and stereotypical depiction of Islam and Muslims.”
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However all the controversy just pushed the film more into the spotlight and the film upon debut was in the top ten globally in countries including Pakistan. Whether or not Netflix will do anything about the situation remains to be seen. For now though, the film has sparked a lot of conversation about how to tackle such sensitive topics.