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Netflix faces controversy due to “Cuties” poster

Updated: Oct 16, 2020

By Serena Atkinson and Raymond Dai Oct. 14, 2020

Evelyn Liu Art


The streaming service Netflix has recently come under fire for its promotional poster for the film “Cuties.” While the original French film’s poster showed a group of young girls walking up a street, Netflix’s poster shows the girls striking poses in what seemed to be revealing dance outfits.


After the Netflix poster was released, many people criticized the company, describing the poster as overly provocative and normalizing the sexualization of young children. Multiple petitions were shared to prevent the film’s international release on Netflix, as the poster led people to assume that the movie’s purpose was to sexualize young girls. Tom Winter, the president of the Parents Television Council (PTC), an organization intended to prevent children from viewing graphic media, told the Daily Caller that he believed the only reason the film was produced was to sexualize children and appeal to child predators.


“Cuties” follows an 11-year-old immigrant girl, Amy, growing up in Paris and her struggle to balance the typical expectations of a Senegalese Muslim family, such as piety and deference to men, while also wanting to fit in with her peers and join a dance troupe. The film received critical acclaim for its portrayal of societal pressure on young children to sexualize themselves, and its director, Maïmouna Doucouré, won an award for Best Director in World Cinema: Drama at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. However, Netflix’s original synopsis of the film presented only one part of the story: describing Amy exploring her femininity. This description, coupled with the original poster, resulted in people assuming that Netflix was openly promoting a movie about children that seemed to have sexual implications.


However, Netflix’s original synopsis of the film presented only one part of the story: describing Amy exploring her femininity.

Due to the backlash it received, Netflix replaced the poster for “Cuties” with a still from the film of Amy wearing a pink tank top and apologized on Twitter for originally choosing a poster that did not accurately represent the film’s content. Although the film does portray the sexualization of children, according to In Their Own League, Doucouré did so in order to criticize the issue and spark a discussion about it rather than promote it. Doucouré told Cineuropa that she was inspired to make the film after seeing a group of 11-year-old girls dancing provocatively at a neighborhood party. She was reminded of her own childhood, when she often felt caught between her family’s traditional Senegalese culture and the Western culture she was exposed to outside her home. Despite her claims, Doucouré also faced criticism from audiences due to the poor marketing in America by Netflix, according to National Public Radio.


Although the film does portray the sexualization of children, according to In Their Own League, Doucouré did so in order to criticize the issue and spark a discussion about it rather than promote it.

“The creator of “Cuties” seems to have tried to show how young girls are often sexualized and based it on her own experiences, but Netflix did not handle this sensitive subject well and tried to sensationalize it by using the provocative poster. I do not know what the film’s reception was like once it became available on Netflix, but I hope none of this backlash was ever directed at the young actors,” Senior Cyris Leonard said.


Cuties is not the only piece of media that has been a center of controversy regarding sexualizing young people this past year. Social media has often been pointed out as a platform that encourages young girls to sexualize themselves. When asked why young women feel the need to post suggestive photos on social media, a 14-year-old girl named Lily told Time that she believed many do so in order to gain followers and attention from their peers. This belief is reflected in criticisms towards teenage celebrities as well; last March, TikTok star Charli D’Amelio faced criticism for some of her dancing videos on her account, to which she responded by telling others to stop focusing on her and her friends’ bodies, according to Insider. “The controversy over the ‘Cuties’ poster is just as serious as the unwanted sexualization of girls on social media like TikTok. Although the problem with Netflix’s poster is more obvious because of all its media attention, the problem of people sexualizing young children is quite common and every experience of it is equally significant,” Leonard said.

 

About the Contributors

Serena Atkinson

Staff Writer


Serena is a senior and this is her third year as a staff writer. She likes the Clash, kitchen-sink drama films, and looking at birds that are in her backyard.









Raymond Dai

Staff Writer


Raymond Dai is a sophomore at Leland High School and a Staff Writer for the Charger Account. He likes to play video games, play badminton and go out biking in his free time.


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