Neither Barack and Michelle Obama nor their former National Security Adviser Susan Rice have weighed in on the firestorm surrounding Cuties, a French coming-of-age drama that is the subject of widespread criticism for its blatant sexualization of pre-pubescent children.
Both the Obamas and Rice are closely connected to the company, with the former president and first lady currently in the middle of a “multi-year agreement” signed back in May 2018 to help produce films and series for the platform. Rice, meanwhile, was appointed to the Netflix board that same year.
Cuties, which was released on Netflix Wednesday, is a French comedy-drama whose protagonist is an 11-year-old Senagalese Muslim girl from a traditional, yet dysfunctional family who joins a dance group known as Mignonnes, also the French name of the film.
Unlike a normal dance group for girls her age, the children’s activity involves highly provocative and sexualized dancing, with twerking (a style predicated on shaking one’s buttocks up and down) at the center of their performances.
The film has provoked outrage among the wider population, with its YouTube trailer attracting an incredible 1.6 million dislikes compared to just 39,000 thumbs up. Meanwhile, around 600,000 people have signed a petition pledging to cancel their Netflix subscription because of the film, while the hashtag #CancelNetflix trended on Twitter on Thursday.
“As I have been researching content that exploits children and creates a disturbing vibe, I have found many shows and movies on Netflix to have similar inappropriate behaviors as Cuties, the movie this petition was originally based off,” the latest petition states. “From cuties to Big Mouth to other movies mocking religions and exploiting children Netflix is no longer the family-friendly streaming service I once believed it to be!”
Netflix has so far refused to condemn any aspect of the film’s content. However, they did issue an apology last month for a promotional image that showed girls posing in skimpy outfits.
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 won an award at Sundance. We’ve now updated the pictures and description.
— Netflix (@netflix) August 20, 2020
In his review of the film, Breitbart film critic John Nolte described Cuties as both “dull and indefensible.”
“Hey, if we’re going to protect Barack Obama and Susan Rice, what we’re supposed to say is that Cuties is a damning indictment of the sexualization of children,” he noted. What we are not supposed to say is that the children in Cuties are sexualized to stick it to The Man.”