Netflix has apologized for sexualizing children following backlash over a now-deleted poster for Cuties. The French-language movie originally titled Mignonnes is directed by Maïmouna Doucouré. It won the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award at Sundance earlier this year and has been a hit with critics. However, the subject matter has been deemed controversial. A petition has been started to "shut down Netflix" for the "exploitation of our nation's youth." As of this writing, the petition has over 35,000 signatures. The backlash has only gotten worse as the streaming platform started the promotional campaign.
Cuties focuses on eleven-year old Amy, who lives with her mom, Mariam, and younger brother, as she waits for her father to rejoin the family from Senegal. Amy is fascinated by disobedient neighbor Angelica's free-spirited dance clique, a group that stands in sharp contrast to stoic Mariam's deeply held traditional values. Amy wants to be a part of the group and ends up joining them. Netflix's original synopsis talks about the underage girls and a sexually explicit dance move. You can read that portion of the now-updated press release below.
"Amy, through an ignited awareness of her burgeoning femininity, propels the group to enthusiastically embrace an increasingly sensual dance routine, sparking the girls' hope to twerk their way to stardom at a local dance contest."
Talk of 11-year old girls "twerking" in the official Netflix synopsis set off outrage across social media, which got even worse when the first poster was released. The Cuties poster features the young girls in various suggestive dance poses, including the aforementioned twerking. More than one Twitter user has called the poster "disgusting," while others have stated, "Netflix really messed up here," in various ways. These are some of the more tame responses to the promotional material, as it gets pretty NSFW on Twitter.
In response, Netflix apologized. "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." The new poster for the movie seems to be a step in the right direction, but there are still thousands calling on the streaming service to pull the movie completely. For now, it looks Netflix intends to release Cuties on September 9th, though that might change in the coming weeks.
Cuties has been praised by critics for tackling the difficult subject of young womanhood. It currently has an 82% Fresh Rating on Rotten Tomatoes, though there are many people who have problems with the movie that extend well past Netflix's promotional campaign. As for who made the controversial poster, the streaming service has not revealed if it was done by them or an agency. You can check out the trailer for Cuties above and see the apology below, thanks to the Netflix Twitter account.