Netflix continues to face accusations that its French drama Cuties sexualizes children. And the streaming service has a response for its critics: watch the movie.
“Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” Netflix said in a statement “It’s an award-winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up— and we’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie.”
Controversy over the Sundance award-winning film (aka Mignonnes), which focuses on an 11-year-old Senegalese girl who joins a “free-spirited” Paris dance crew to rebel against her conservative upbringing, first swirled three weeks ago, over a promotional graphic that depicted the film’s young characters in provocative poses.
On August 20, the conservative Parents Television Council called for Netflix to pull the TV-MA film, as well as other content that “sexualizes children or romanticizes sexual assault and rape.”
Netflix apologized and pulled the graphic, conceding it was inappropriate, but also noting that it didn’t represent the film’s content, which the streaming company—and film critics—actually feel is pro-social.
The controversy about the film and its inclusion of pre-teen twerking scenes hasn’t gone away.
With Cuties debuting Wednesday, September 9, and emerging as the streaming service’s No. 7 most watched film, #CancelNetflix is trending on Twitter.
“After reviewing the Netflix film Cuties, the Parents Television Council stands by its earlier criticism that the TV-MA-rated film sexualizes children,” the PTC said in a statement released Thursday.
Meanwhile, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) called Netflix’s decision to debut the film “unbelievable.” He sarcastically noted that Netflix is “really concerned about child exploitation.”
However, film critics—who have collectively scored the film with a solid 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes—say the conservative opposition has it all wrong.
“I doubt that the scandal-mongers (who include some well-known figures of the far right) have actually seen Cuties, but some elements of the film that weren’t presented in the advertising would surely prove irritating to them: it’s the story of a girl’s outrage at, and defiance of, a patriarchal order,” wrote The New Yorker’s Richard Brody.
Meanwhile, Washington Post columnist Alyssa Rosenberg wrote that the "freakout" over the film has bothered her more "than anything I've seen in decades." She headlined her post, "The people freaking out about ‘Cuties’ should try it. They might find a lot to like."
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