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Thursday 23 March 2023 Dublin: 11°C
# Cancel Netflix
Calls for Netflix boycott over sexualisation of girls in French film 'Mignonnes'
Netflix apologised after using “inappropriate” artwork to promote the film – but broader opposition to the film itself has developed.

THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE launched a call to boycott Netflix over the French film “Mignonnes” – ‘Cuties’ in English – angry that its young stars were portrayed in a sexualised way.

The film is directed by French-Senegalese director Maimouna Doucoure, and started streaming on 9 September. More than 200,000 tweets with the hashtag #CancelNetflix became the top trending topic one day later.

A first wave of criticism in August led Netflix to withdraw “inappropriate” artwork used to promote the film, which was released in theatres that month in France.

Netflix said it apologized for having used “inappropriate” images, and Vulture reports that Netflix deleted a description that said Amy “becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew” and in an attempt to join them, she “starts to explore her femininity, defying her family’s traditions”.

But yesterday, broader opposition to some of the imagery came from across the political spectrum in the United States.

DeAnna Lorraine, a former Republican candidate for Congress from California, tweeted that “Child pornography is illegal in America.”

“As the mother of an eight-year old girl, I STRONGLY support #CancelNetflix,” added Beatrice Cardenas, another California Republican.

The film, which received a director’s award at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival, tells the story of Amy, an 11-year-old Parisian, who must juggle the strict rules of her Senegalese family and social media’s emphasis on appearance.

She joins a dance group formed by three other girls from her neighbourhood, whose choreographies are sometimes suggestive.

“The hypersexualization of girls (and boys) is disgusting,” tweeted Omar Navarro, another Republican politician.

“It is morally and ethically reprehensible. Paedophiles, child rapists and perverts would have a great time with ‘Cuties’.”

Among the voices praising the movie were American actress Tessa Thompson (Creed, Avengers: Endgame), who found it “beautiful”.

“It gutted me at @sundancefest,” she went on.

“It introduces a fresh voice at the helm. She’s a French Senegalese Black woman mining her experiences.

The film comments on the hyper-sexualization of preadolescent girls. Disappointed to see the current discourse. Disappointed to see how it was positioned in terms of marketing.

“I understand the response of everybody. But it doesn’t speak to the film I saw.”

In the New Yorker, film critic Richard Brody argues that the film criticises the oversexualised culture being the only option for young girls. 

The subject of ‘Cuties’ isn’t twerking; it’s children, especially poor and non-white children, who are deprived of the resources – the education, the emotional support, the open family discussion – to put sexualized media and pop culture into perspective.
“Cuties” is about the absence of knowledge and absence of reasonable discourse about sex and sexuality, power and desire, that help young people to avow and confront these drives constructively – or, at least, not too destructively. Lacking those things, Amy latches on to a mode of revolt that is itself a trope of a misogynistic order.

A Netflix spokesperson said: “Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children.

“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.”

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