The French film continues to receive backlash for the sexualisation of underage girls.
By Emma Sacco
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 9 of VARSITY News.
The 2020 French film Cuties, originally titled “Mignonnes” has recently been advertised on Netflix and will be uploaded to our South African Netflix on the 9th of September. While Cuties has been positively received by many and won multiple awards at the Sundance Film Festival 2020, others haven’t been so accepting of its plotline and supposed sexualisation of young girls.
Director Maïmouna Doucouré created the now well-known film to comment on the way that young girls are sexualised in society and are encouraged to act in sexually explicit ways due to social media.
While the intention of the film seems to be focused on raising awareness around the sexualisation of young girls, many disagree with the movie being made at all, claiming that the film itself sexualises the young actresses and allows adults to look at these underage girls in a sexual manner.
The movie only received more negative feedback when Netflix published a cover photo to advertise the release of the movie. The photo displayed the 11-year-old main actresses in sexually provocative poses and wearing minimal amounts of clothing.
People were quick to respond to this wildly inappropriate image on both Twitter and Instagram, with one user saying that “Netflix just normalised pedophilia”.
Other comments on Netflix’s sexualised image included well-known Twitter user Sister Outrider speaking out about the sexualisation of young black girls: “It is so revealing that the first major @netflix original to centre young black girls hinges on explicitly sexualising 11-year-old children. Whether it’s acting or music, a sexualised image is too often the price of mainstream success for black women & girls. Disgraceful”.
It is so revealing that the first major @netflix original to centre young Black girls hinges on explicitly sexualising 11 year old children. Whether it’s acting or music, a sexualised image is too often the price of mainstream success for Black women & girls. Disgraceful. pic.twitter.com/18ItsgIZLb
— Sister Outrider (@ClaireShrugged) August 20, 2020
Netflix was quick to respond to the backlash and promptly removed the sexualised cover poster, replacing it with a photo of the main young actress, Fathia Youssouf Abdillahi, looking over her shoulder.
A spokesperson for Netflix then released an apology, stating: “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 premiered at Sundance.”
While Netflix’s fast removal of the photo and apology was a good and appropriate response, it is still highly concerning that the image was published in the first place. The sexualisation of underage girls is a problem that seems to be growing in our society, and with a huge platform such as Netflix normalising such a sexually explicit photo of young girls, society will only continue to expect and encourage the sexualisation of these minors.
There are still many people who think that the film is problematic in itself, and many petitions have been created to urge Netflix not to release the movie at all. Despite these online petitions, one of which has gathered over 170 000 signatures, Netflix is still set on releasing Cuties in September.