Netflix has apologised and removed a promotional image for new film Cuties, as it shows little girls posing in skimpy outfits.
Alongside a trailer, a poster has been revealed for the French drama Cuties, however, it has sparked online controversy as people have argued it has sexualised young girls. Based on the backlash, a petition was launched for the promotional poster to be dropped.
The award-winning drama tells the story of an 11-year-old girl who joins a dance group. The makers of the film have said it is meant to tackle the issue of sexualisation of young girls.
Netflix stated it was “deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork”.
The streaming giant then added that the original poster was not an accurate representation of the film.
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
Online outrage was triggered when the image, alongside the movie’s title and suggestive dance moves, was shared online.
A petition was launched stating it “sexualizes an 11-year-old for the viewing pleasure of paedophiles” and in less than 24 hours, 25,000 people signed.
Director Maimouna Doucouré explained that the story is actually aimed to highlight how social media is pushing young girls to mimic sexualised imagery, without the understanding of what lies beneath it or the dangers involved.
The director said she decided to explore the topic as she was shocked after seeing a group of girls aged around 11 dancing in a sexualised manner whilst wearing revealing clothing.
She told CineEuropa: “I saw that some very young girls were followed by 400,000 people on social media and I tried to understand why.
“There were no particular reasons, besides the fact that they had posted sexy or at least revealing pictures: that is what had brought them this ‘fame’.
“Today, the sexier and the more objectified a woman is, the more value she has in the eyes of social media. And when you’re 11, you don’t really understand all these mechanisms, but you tend to mimic, to do the same thing as others in order to get a similar result.
“I think it is urgent that we talk about it, that a debate be had on the subject.”
Cuties follows 11-year-old Amy, from Senegal, who feels torn between her family’s traditional, conservative lifestyle and the escapism she’s found in her free-spirited neighbour Angelica and her dance gang.
In France, the film was released under its original name of Mignonnes.
The film earned Franco-Senegalese film-maker Doucouré the world cinematic directing award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
Although the film isn’t a Netflix original, it will arrive on the platform next month. Already, Cuties has garnered social media criticism.
Following the poster’s controversy, Netflix told the BBC: “This was not an accurate representation of the film so the image and description has been updated.”
The streaming giant later tweeted: “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.”