Netflix is under fire for what many are blasting as its “disgusting” promotion for new movie Cuties, a coming-of-age story about a group of young girls in France. An online storm is brewing about the way that the international film is being promoted, with fans wondering why the platform would allow such inappropriate images to be shared.
Cuties, one of the many new projects headed to Netflix in September, follows the growing pains of a young girl trying to stretch her wings. Amy (newbie Fathia Youssouf) finds herself stuck between the conservative Senegalese-Muslim upbringing she’s known all of her life and the strong desire to come into her own. She’s just like many other kids her age; all Amy wants to is to wear makeup, dance with her friends, and go viral on the internet.
Early promotion of the film, set to drop on September 9, shows Amy and her friends dressed in this dance uniforms, but the images aren’t going over well on the internet. People who came across Netflix’s Cuties posters were scandalised, claiming that the streaming giant was sexualising the young cast.
I just found a trailer for the movie “Cuties” on Netflix and the blatant sexualization of young girls is DISGUSTING. No one wants to see their child dressed and posed like this. WHY IS NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT THIS? #cuties @netflix pic.twitter.com/a4rWey3cuj
— BP ENT (@ayyverty) August 19, 2020
“I just found a trailer for the movie Cuties on Netflix and the blatant sexualization of young girls is DISGUSTING,” tweeted one user. “No one wants to see their child dressed and posed like this. WHY IS NO ONE IS TALKING ABOUT THIS?”
its interesting to compare the french version of the cuties poster to the american version…
like the French version has more “kids having fun!” vibes, while the American version is just fucking…. gross.
I feel like the #Netflix marketing team has a lot to answer for. pic.twitter.com/c8QrX0EY75
— kitti (meow) (@yeetdere) August 20, 2020
“Its interesting to compare the french version of the cuties poster to the american version,” observed another. “Like the French version has more ‘kids having fun!’ vibes, while the American version is just fucking…. gross.I feel like the #Netflix marketing team has a lot to answer for.”
Netflix took note of the overwhelming criticism and issued an apology, stating that its intention was not to misrepresent the film in any way.
“We’re deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Cuties,” the streaming giant said in an official statement. “It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which premiered at Sundance. We’ve now updated the pictures and description.”
To be fair, Cuties intends to spark a conversation about the strange social norms that women are taught to see as normal from a very young age. If it makes you somewhat uncomfortable, it’s doing its job — that discomfort is exactly what director Maïmouna Doucouré’s wants to flesh out.
“During my research [for Cuties] I saw, at a neighbourhood party, 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,” she said in an interview with the film site Cineuropa. “I was rather shocked and I wondered if they were aware of the image of sexual availability that they were projecting. ”
Doucouré fleshed out this adolescent foray into femininity in Cuties, creating a world in which girls like the ones she saw at that party would be able navigate their own path. Her characters, she says, aren’t easy to understand, but the point of the film is to explain their complicated circumstances.
“This is most of all an uncompromising portrait of an 11-year-old girl plunged in a world that imposes a series of dictates on her,” the director shared. “It was very important not to judge these girls, but most of all to understand them, to listen to them, to give them a voice, to take into account the complexity of what they’re living through in society, and all of that in parallel with their childhood which is always there, their imaginary, their innocence.”
Did Netflix take things too far with the promotion for Cuties, or did it point to exactly what Doucouré was trying to explain in her film? You be the judge — Cuties will be available for streaming on Netflix on September 9.
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