This is not the first time Netflix has found itself in the middle of a controversy. The streaming giant is no stranger to hostile hashtags either. However, this is for the first time that it might not be able to get out unscathed.
As the #CancelNetflix trends again over Cuties, the fact that Netflix has officially apologised for the marketing materials released for the film doesn't matter this time. Creative liberty in the name of content is one thing, but risqué content in the context of children, quite another. As the backlash against French film Cuties continues, a few hours after its premiere on the streaming giant Netflix, the viewers' noise over cancelling Netflix subscription grows loud enough to the point of being heard.
It may be noted that only last year, Netflix was criticised for using images of real-life disaster in Bird Box. The big bosses couldn't have thought of sneaking in a movie like Cuties without anticipating a fair share of noise, ruckus and calls for a boycott.
In an interview to Cineuropa, creator of Cuties, Maimouna Doucoure explained her taking up the subject. "The day I saw, at a neighbourhood party, a group of young girls aged around 11, going up on stage and dancing in a very sensual way while wearing very revealing clothes. I was rather shocked and I wondered if they were aware of the image of sexual availability that they were projecting. In the audience, there was also more traditional mothers, some of them wearing veils: it was a real culture shock. I thought back to my own childhood and I've often asked myself questions about my own femininity, about evolving between two cultures, about my Senegalese culture."
Among the prominent opponents is British politician David Kurten, who tweeted having cancelled Netflix subscription. "I have cancelled my Netflix subscription. When asked for a reason I wrote: You support paedophilia. I have not heard back." Joining in the sentiment is Graham Allen, who also tweeted about Netflix crossing the line with a subject to do with sexualising children.
American activist Lila Rose likened the streaming service showing the movie akin to distributing child porn. Further also including in her ambit, all those who might even think of being on the other side of the table while arguing.
Anyone who instructs children to act in sexual ways is a predator.#Netflix is distributing child porn.— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) September 10, 2020
Filming it is illegal.
Distributing it is illegal.
Purchasing it is illegal.
Where is @TheJusticeDept?
And anyone rationalizing child pornography is complicit.#cancelnetflix
Cuties revolves around 11-year-old girl Amy, hailing from a traditional Senegalese Muslim family and living in a poor French neighbourhood. All charmed by her neighbour Angelica who is a part of Cuties, an adult dance troupe, Amy goes onto join the twerking clique, which is a world in sharp contrast to her conservative roots.
Meanwhile, Netflix is yet to officially respond or even take the film off. Tweets Emily Rarick, "#Cancel Netflix is trending. People are outraged. And Netflix, still has not removed the movie Cuties. Can someone explain this to me?" Us too.