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Netflix Faces Backlash For Inappropriate Poster Of A French Film That Sexualises Young Girls, Issues An Apology

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Netflix has come under fire a number of times in the past for its troubling ideas of perpetuating stereotypes (think Indian Matchmaking), glorifying rape (365 Days) and hypersexualising teens in its shows and movies. You might remember shows like ‘Riverdale’ and ‘Gossip Girl’, in which actors in their 20s are playing school-going teens who are walking in stilettoes, pole-dancing, stripping and what not. It’s times like these when Netflix and Chill becomes more like Netflix and WTF!

And while one would think they’d learn from their mistakes, yet again, it has managed to offend its audience and received a hefty amount of flak on the social media when it released the poster of an upcoming French film Cuties, originally titled Mignonnes. It showed preteen girls in inappropriate clothing and sexy dance poses. Thousands of people found it disgusting and problematic and signed a petition in Change.org to delete the title and remove the film stating it “sexualizes an 11-year-old for the viewing pleasure of pedophiles.” The petition got around 49000 signatures to remove the film from the streaming platform.

The US streaming service took to twitter to apologise for the inappropriate campaign and wrote, “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.”

However, here’s the thing. The artwork and the poster are not the only thing problematic here. It’s the movie that sexualises young girls. Although Netflix has apologised for the poster of the movie and changed the synopsis, it has no plans for scraping the movie. This seemed like an empty gesture and the petitioners aren’t really pleased with the apologetic statement.

The plot of the movie goes something like this. It is about a traditional Senegalese Muslim girl “who becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew” and “starts to explore her femininity.” Netflix changed the original synopsis which read, “Amy, an 11-year-old girl, joins a group of dancers named “the cuties” at school, and rapidly grows aware of her burgeoning femininity – upsetting her mother and her values in the process.” Now, the new synopsis says, “11-year-old Amy stars to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew.”

While the poster of the original film showed the four girls with shopping bags, happily trotting on street, with bras and underwear over their clothes, the Netflix one showed them in skimpy clothes on a stage posing suggestive dance moves. A user wrote, “It sickens me that Netflix is using its global platform to circumvent child pornography laws by airing Cuties, a movie about an 11-year old girl twerking her way to stardom. Pubescent girls dancing sensually can only lead to pedophilia and Netflix needs to be strongly censured.” Netflix has no plans of withdrawing the film and is going ahead with the worldwide release on September 9, 2020.

In an interview with Cineuropa, the director of the film, Maïmouna Doucouré defended the movie saying, “This isn’t a health & safety ad.” “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 inspiration of the film came from an incident where Doucouré some teen girls were sensually dancing for an audience. She found the scene disturbing but fascinating and decided to write and direct ‘Cuties’ on the same line. She added, “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.”

Also Read: My Parents Have Started Streaming Shows On Netflix. I Was Worried They Might Think There’s Too Much Sex And Violence But It’s Started A Dialogue

Some even argued that the film actually is not on the wrong here but the Netflix poster that misinterpreted the essence of the film. A user wrote, “After researching the film and reading articles from the director and people who’ve seen it, you grossly misadvertised the content of the film and made it seem like it was everything it was trying to make a point against.” Another wrote, “I hope you’ll be publicly apologising to the director too.”

The petitioners, however, argue that it is “disgusting as it sexualizes an eleven-year-old for the viewing pleasure of pedophiles and also negatively influences our children.” The concerns regarding the sexualisation of young girls in the movie is the crux of all the backlash here. Portraying underage girls in skimpy clothes and showing them performing sexual dance moves is extremely problematic and perpetuate sex trafficking and pedophilia which are already rife in the world. After all, we don’t need little girls missing out on their innocence and getting misdirected. What do you think?

Also Read: #Voices: Google Images Show School Boys As Innocent Children But School Girl As An Adult Woman In A Sleazy Uniforms. This Hypersexualises Young Girls And It’s Disgusting.

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