Netflix defends controversial film “Cuties” as “social commentary” against sexualization of young children amid backlash over the film’s sexualized portrayal of children.
“Cuties” follows Amy, an 11-year-old girl who joins a group of dancers named “The Cuties” at school and rapidly grows aware of her burgeoning femininity — upsetting her mother and her values. The film was premiered in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition sector of 2020 Sundance Film Festival and won the Directing Jury Award praising the script of the film.
The film has received criticism from the public due to the highly sexually suggestive behaviour of the pre-adolescent characters.
The backlash began in August after Netflix debuted the film’s artwork which depicted four adolescent girls wearing revealing cheerleading outfits and posing provocatively. The original tagline for the film said: “Amy, 11, becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew. Hoping to join them, she starts to explore her femininity, defying her family’s traditions.”
Netflix issued an apology on Aug. 20 for the “inappropriate” artwork used for the film and said that it has also updated the description.
However, a day after the film was released internationally on Netflix on Sept. 9, the hashtags #CancelNetflix and #BoycottNetflix began trending on social media. An online petition calling on Netflix customers to cancel their subscription over “Cuties” and other “disturbing” content has been signed by over 600, 000 people.
The streaming giant has encouraged critics to watch the film. In a statement issued to Variety on Friday, a Netflix spokesperson said that “ ‘Cuties’ is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children.
“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.”