• The National Center on Sexual Exploitation slammed Netflix and director Maïmouna Doucouré over "Cuties"
  • The organization believes the close-up shots of the young actresses' bodies in "Cuties" should have been cut
  • Netflix encouraged viewers to watch "Cuties" and learn about its message

Netflix has been called out by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) over the controversial film "Cuties," which has drawn criticism for allegedly sexualizing young children.

Since August, petitions have been circulating calling for "Cuties" to be taken down and a campaign was launched following its Wednesday, Sept. 9 release encouraging Netflix subscribers to cancel their plans. Now, NCOSE has slammed both "Cuties" director Maïmouna Doucouré and Netflix — one for the "exploitation of the young actresses" and the streaming giant for giving the movie a platform. 

"Netflix wants to have its cake and eat it too: it’s underwriting a coming-of-age story by a woman of color, which is laudable, but it has given a home to a film that depicts the oversexualization of children in a way that adds to the problem of child sexual exploitation," Lina Nealon, director of corporate and strategic initiatives for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, said in a statement.

"While we commend Director Maïmouna Doucouré for exposing the very real threats to young girls having unfettered access to social media and the internet, we cannot condone the hypersexualization and exploitation of the young actresses themselves in order to make her point," she added.

"Cuties" has been receiving intense backlash online since Netflix first released its controversial promotional poster, which showed its four young lead actors in provocative clothing and poses, back in August. 

Nealon emphasized in the statement that the close-up shots of the young actresses' bodies in the film were unnecessary. The organization believes that Netflix should have demanded for those long scenes to be cut before putting the "Cuties" up on its platform.

"And to showcase sexual exploitation of children in a film while saying that this is a ‘powerful story,’ as Netflix has said, is nothing short of corporate malfeasance," Nealon continued. "Netflix could and should insist that the particularly sexually-exploitative scenes are cut from the film, or stop hosting this film at all.”

Netflix earlier responded to the criticism it received for showing the movie, saying, it is "an award-winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up."

Despite the call to cancel and boycott Netflix, the streaming giant encouraged those who care about this important issues to take the time to watch "Cuties."

Doucouré, who won the prestigious Directing Award in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition section of the Sundance Film Festival for "Cuties," also believes that people should give her film a chance as it has an important story to tell. 

"This film shows with these characters how limiting it is in today’s society, to see a woman as an object and that success comes from a woman being objectified," she told Time.

The director added, "I really hope that once the film comes out, they will watch it, and they will understand that those who were criticizing me were actually walking the same path as me."

Cuties movie A petition seeks to keep Netflix's "Cuties" from being released. Photo: Jean-Michel Papazian for Bien ou Bien Productions