Cuties controversy sparks #CancelNetflix campaign | Film

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A call to boycott Netflix on Thursday over the French film Mignonnes – AKA Cuties – has been launched on social media, over claims that its young stars were portrayed in a sexualised way.

The film is directed by French-Senegalese director Maïmouna Doucouré, and started streaming on 9 September. More than 200,000 tweets with the hashtag #CancelNetflix became the top trending topic one day later.

A first wave of criticism, in August, led Netflix to withdraw artwork used to promote the film, which was released in theatres that month in France. At the time Netflix said it apologised for having used “inappropriate” images in its promotional material.

But on Thursday, broader opposition to some of the imagery came from around the political spectrum in the United States. A petition on change.org calling on users to cancel their Netflix subscriptions currently stands at more than 600,000 signatures.

DeAnna Lorraine, a former Republican candidate for Congress from California, tweeted that “Child pornography is illegal in America”. “As the mother of an eight-year old girl, I STRONGLY support #CancelNetflix,” added Beatrice Cardenas, another California Republican.

The film, which received a director’s award at the Sundance film festival, tells the story of Amy, an 11-year-old Senegalese girl living in Paris, who joins a dance group formed by three other girls from her neighbourhood to escape the restrictions of family life.

“The hypersexualization of girls (and boys) is disgusting,” tweeted Omar Navarro, another Republican politician. “It is morally and ethically reprehensible.”

In a statement, Netflix said: “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.”

Among the voices praising the movie were American actor Tessa Thompson (Creed, Avengers: Endgame), who said on social media that she found it “beautiful”. “It gutted me at @sundancefest. It introduces a fresh voice at the helm. She’s a French Senegalese Black woman mining her experiences.

“The film comments on the hyper-sexualization of preadolescent girls. Disappointed to see the current discourse. Disappointed to see how it was positioned in terms of marketing.

“I understand the response of everybody. But it doesn’t speak to the film I saw.”

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