KEY POINTS

  • Netflix has responded to the backlash over the release of the film "Cuties"
  • Netflix asked critics to watch the movie, describing it as a "social commentary against the sexualization of young children"
  • A campaign was launched online calling on Netflix subscribers to cancel their plans after the release of "Cuties"

Netflix has defended the highly controversial drama “Cuties” amid calls to remove the movie from the streaming platform due to its alleged sexualized portrayal of young girls.

Netflix responded to the massive backlash over “Cuties,” which spawned the #CancelNetflix campaign on social media, in a new statement to Variety. The streaming giant said it hopes critics will give the film a chance as it sheds light on the societal pressures that young girls face as they grow up.

“'Cuties’ is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” a Netflix representative said. “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.”

The controversy surrounding “Cuties,” which was first sparked by the release of its promotional poster last month, was revived once more after its release on Wednesday, Sept. 9. The movie centers on an 11-year-old Senegalese girl living in Paris named Amy, who finds escape from her family’s traditional upbringing by joining a “free-spirited” dance group.

“Cuties” was immediately condemned online for showing young girls performing sexualized dance moves and putting them in inappropriate situations.

After its premiere, #BoycottNetflix and #CancelNetflix became top trending topics on Twitter as social media users encouraged Netflix users to cancel their subscriptions. Critics also made their opinions clear after giving “Cuties” a 1.7 rating on IMDb, a score that puts it among the lowest-rated films on the website.

Prior to the film’s release, the streaming giant faced criticism as early as August over the poster of the French-language movie, which showed its young stars dancing in matching crop tops and shorts.

The backlash was enough for Netflix to take down the “Cuties” poster at the time, but the streaming giant maintained that it would still release the film.

“We're deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Mignonnes/Cuties,” Netflix tweeted. “It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which won an award at Sundance.”

“Cuties” writer-director Maïmouna Doucouré won the world cinema dramatic directing award at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival for the film.

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