Netflix is standing behind its controversial tween-twerking drama Cuties despite intense backlash over the movie’s sexually charged depiction of underage girls.
The company issued a statement to multiple news outlets late Thursday defending the French-language Cuties (Mignonnes), which debuted this week on the streaming service.
“Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” a Netflix spokesperson 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.”
Sen. Josh Hawley called out Netflix’s purported concern about child sexual exploitation, by highlighting posts to the parental guide page of IMDB, where warnings about nudity and hyper-sexual scenes involving young girls are shown.
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) September 11, 2020
The film has generated controversy for a dance sequence showing underage girls gyrating provocatively on the floor and touching themselves sexually. The scene prompted the hashtag #CancelNetflix to reach the No. 1 trending item on Twitter Thursday. An online petition calling for customers to cancel their Netflix subscriptions has reached more than 600,000 signatures.
Netflix previously apologized for the movie’s marketing campaign, which spotlighted the lewd dance sequence in the official trailer and poster.
Cuties tells the story of an 11-year-old French girl who attempts to escape her oppressive Senegalese Muslim family by joining a twerking troupe. Netflix acquired the movie in January after it screened to rapturous reception at the Sundance Film Festival.
Barack and Michelle Obama, who have a production deal with Netflix, have so far remained silent about the Cuties controversy, as has former Obama national security advisor Susan Rice, who sits on Netflix’s board of directors.