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Netflix sees cancellations increase by 5x after release of ‘Cuties’

FILE - This image released by Netflix shows the cast of the coming-of-age film "Cuties." The backlash to the French independent film “Mignonnes,” or “Cuties,” started before it had even been released because of a poster that went viral for its provocative depiction of its young female actors. (Netflix via AP, File)

Backlash over the French film “Cuties” that recently premiered on Netflix has led to a drastic number of cancellations for the streaming service.

According to reports and data collected by the analytics company Antenna, Netflix has seen five times the normal number of cancellations since the film began streaming on the service compared to the last 30 days. 

 

Criticism 

Criticism came shortly after it was released Sept. 9 in the U.S. for overly sexualizing the group of pre-teen girls the film is focused on.

“Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” said a Netflix spokesperson in a statement to the Deseret News. “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.”

Critics say the movie has done the exact opposite of being a voice against the sexualization of young children and steps over the line to become child pornography.

The TV-MA film has also drawn criticism from Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) who has floated the idea of having the U.S. attorney general investigate the film for possibly violating child exploitation laws.

In a letter sent to Netflix Chairman and CEO Reed Hastings Lee writes, “Many have raised concerns—which I share—regarding the film’s depiction of the exploitation of young girls’ bodies. In part because of scenes depicting scantily clad children dancing in a sexually suggestive manner, Netflix has rated the movie TV-MA, or mature audience only.

“My concern is not necessarily that the film is rated TV-MA, but that the ‘explicit sexual activity’ that led to the TV-MA rating involves sexually suggestive dancing by girls as young as eleven years old.”

Lee said that although he’s concerned the film may be a negative influence for other young girls, his larger concern is that it may lead to an increase in the exploitation of young people. 

“While I have concerns with the movie’s young actresses’ influence on other young girls, my larger concern is with the possibility that the inappropriate scenes might encourage the sexual exploitation of young girls by adults,” the senator wrote. “I understand this film contains a broader storyline; however, the film’s sexualization of young girls—if not itself the sexual exploitation of the child actors–will certainly contribute to child sexual exploitation by others.

“At a minimum, it is certainly inappropriate and morally wrong to sexualize minors, regardless of whether the depiction is fictional,” he writes.

Last month, Netflix backtracked praise for the film after it won the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City earlier this year. The streaming service also apologized for the original promotional poster which included the four young girls posing suggestively.

“We’re deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Mignonnes/Cuties,” the streaming service posted 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.”

 

In a statement to the Deseret News, Parents Television Council President Tim Winter said the company is a part of the problem, not a part of the solution.

“Earth to Netflix: You’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. A big part. Not only does ‘Cuties’ perpetuate the very type of child sexual exploitation that you purport to be condemning; you have produced, distributed and profited from a cancerous mass of other sexually exploitative material. ‘Cuties’ is but the latest offering, and your callous response makes clear to millions of Americans across the political spectrum that you have no commonsense decency whatsoever.”


Lee Lonsberry covered the controversy over Netflix’s Cuties during LiveMic hear his full breakdown here: