Written by Joseph Carrick
Recently Netflix took on the award-winning French drama Cuties, but it appears that their promotions were causing more drama than the show itself. The promotional image portrays several young girls in revealing clothing in various “adult” dance poses (most notably twerking). The image almost immediately blew up online as detractors decried the image, and therefore the film itself, as sexualizing minors. An online petition went viral – garnering 25,000 signatures in less than a day. Netflix was forced to quickly backpedal and remove the image. Additionally, they released an apology via Twitter, saying the artwork did not accurately depict the Sundance Film winner fairly.
Director Maimouna Doucoure explains the controversy is not entirely fair, however. The story specifically highlights the sexualization young girls face and emulate without fully understanding its meaning and perceived danger. Parents Television Council president Tim Winter objects, and claims that the only motivation for producing the film was to sexualize children and feed into the depravity of those who seek to sexualize the innocent. This statement was naturally met with controversy of its own, as it might suggest that the Sundance awards at least passively support such actions.
Nevertheless, the story of girls struggling to understand sexuality in a world where sex is pushed onto girls at a young age is a touchy subject that needed to be handled with care. The crass advertisement certainly caught the attention of audiences, but not in the way that Netflix expected nor wanted. Even if the director finds no faults in the image, taste is a difficult concept to grasp when crossing cultures. Perhaps finding inspiration in the equally controversial Dance Moms advertisements might have saved the controversy for the film itself rather than its promotions. While the director certainly got the conversation rolling, she probably hoped it would revolve around the actual plot and not a vaguely misleading promotional image.