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What Apology Can Possibly Explain Netflix’s Gross, Sexualized Cuties Poster?

Netflix has done it again — and unfortunately, by “it” we mean raised raised concerns that they’re giving a platform to content that sexualizes kids. Last in hot water in 2018 over the content of TV series Big Mouth and movie Desire, the streaming service is now facing thousands of angry parents (and non-parents) demanding to know why the child stars of upcoming release Cuties were so absurdly, grotesquely sexualized in the Netflix-designed poster. This movie, which premiered at Sundance, had a perfectly fine (adorable, even!) original poster — but Netflix’s new version showed the same young girls twerking or on all fours, all in minimal clothing and plenty of bright, glitzy Netflix lighting. Netflix has since apologized for the poster, but those who took a peek at the rest of the film’s content are no more reassured, and a handful of petitions calling for the film to be banned have already amassed thousands of signatures.

Cuties director Maïmouna Doucouré based the film on a group of young girls she encountered in Paris, France, a show that transfixed the filmmaker precisely because of the jarringly sexualized dance moves and provocative clothing — all on girls who hadn’t yet hit puberty. Doucouré became determined to understand them and what drove them, and the movie explores their experience. But some viewers don’t feel that mission justifies creating an adult-rated film that showcases these performances.

Following the backlash over its poster, Netflix was quick to release an apology as well as issuing a new description for the film, nixing a version that had referred to the girls as a “twerking dance crew.”

“We’re deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Mignonnes/Cuties,” Netflix wrote on Twitter. “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.”


But those against the film see Netflix’s apology as way too little, way too late. As far as they’re concerned, Netflix is not only airing content that knowingly sexually exploits young girls, but it’s actively marketing its content to pedophiles.

“This movie/show is disgusting as it sexualizes an ELEVEN year old for the viewing pleasure of pedophiles and also negatively influences our children!” the petition description reads. “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!”

From Doucouré’s own statement, it seems the interpretation of her film has gotten far away from her original intention. But Netflix does have a responsibility to consider the potential impact of its content — and an even bigger responsibility to make sure something like that Cuties poster never happens again.

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