Thousands of people are now urging popular streaming service Netflix to pull a controversial French film about an 11-year-old girl rebelling against her conservative family to join a dance crew, after the media company apologized for using a sexualized poster to promote the film.
“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,” Netflix said in a statement posted on Twitter Thursday.
The apology came after more than 150,000 people signed a change.org petition, calling on Netflix to remove the film set for release on Sept. 9.
“This movie/show is disgusting as it sexualizes an ELEVEN year old for the viewing pleasure of pedophiles and also negatively influences our children! There is no need for this kind of content in that age group, especially when sex trafficking and pedophilia are so rampant! There is no excuse, this is dangerous content!” Allison Mitchell, who started the petition, wrote.
In an update responding to the apology from Netflix about the sexualize poster that was used to promote the film, Mitchell made it clear that the petition is more than just about the poster.
“THIS PROBLEM ISNT THE ARTWORK ITS THE FACT ITS ABOUT TWERKING ELEVEN YEAR OLDS FOR ADULT VIEWING PLEASURE. TAKE IT DOWN WE HAVE THE SCREENSHOTS,” she insisted.
Responding to Netflix’s apology on Twitter, Etan Thomas, a retired NBA player, political pundit and children's advocate, praised Netflix for removing the sexualized poster of the young girls but urged the company to make the next step by pulling the film from its offerings.
“As someone who signed the petition for you to remove the cover that’s a good 1st step. So now the qst is, do you have the moral courage to pull the actual show that sexualizes little girls or are you simply looking to widen your demographic to attract pedophiles and perverts?” he asked.
Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, said with Netflix’s promotion of “Cuties,” America can no longer pretend that the sexualization of children isn’t “our society’s dirtiest little secret.”
“I've long said that our society's dirtiest little secret is the sexualization of children. It was only ‘secret’ in the sense that people could pretend not to know. With Netflix's ‘Cuties,’ that is no longer possible. You know. Everyone knows. No one can credibly deny knowing,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Cuties” director Maimouna Doucouré explained in an interview with Cineuropa, that the film which won the world cinema dramatic directing award at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, is really social commentary on how social media pushes girls to mimic sexualized imagery.
“During my research, I saw that all these young girls I’d met were very exposed on social media. And with new social codes, the ways of presenting yourself change. I saw that some very young girls were followed by 400,000 people on social media and I tried to understand why. There were no particular reasons, besides the fact that they had posted sexy or at least revealing pictures: that is what had brought them this ‘fame,’” Doucouré said. “Today, the sexier and the more objectified a woman is, the more value she has in the eyes of social media. And when you’re 11, you don’t really understand all these mechanisms, but you tend to mimic, to do the same thing as others in order to get a similar result. I think it is urgent that we talk about it, that a debate be had on the subject.”