Global streaming giant Netflix has been subject to online criticism after the trailer for an upcoming coming-of-age film went viral on Thursday.
The official Netflix film account posted a trailer for the film earlier this week and immediately had followers questioning why such young girls were being sexualised.
— NetflixFilm (@NetflixFilm) August 18, 2020
“Shame in addition to hyper sexualised children, you play on stereotypes by passing the Westaf family, our religions and culture for retrograde, a film for white women. What a shame on the westaf girls who will watch. Such a shame,” commented Twitter user @ibrahim_cr678.
I just don’t understand why they had to “twerk” to express their free thought and action whilst being ELEVEN years old ELEVEN when I was eleven I shove eraser pieces in my ear and bited lego pieces ????????♂️????????♂️????????♂️????????♂️
— emyrboii (@emyrboii) August 19, 2020
It’s the way that Netflix chose to change the film poster for me. pic.twitter.com/xGTj63MZhp
— Neo (@Neo_url) August 20, 2020
The hypersexualization of young Black girls is the worst thing ever.
Other races can have stories centered around love, adventure, finding themselves but Black women get an 11 year old Black girl plus company twerking and being sexualised.
Everyday I hate Netflix more
— Ella (@ToldByElla) August 19, 2020
People of the Islamic faith also took exception to the portrayal of life as a muslim woman/girl as seen in the trailer.
nah just cancel netflix at this point. no one wants to watch films on african culture/muslim faith always being in the way of happiness. and yes, muslim girls can cover up and feel liberated at the same time????????
— FREE PALESTINE (@nuhabesha) August 19, 2020
Ah yes. Another movie where a woman/girl removes her hijab to “find herself” because the hijab is so oppressive. So excited ????
— BabaSparxx (Escanor Stan Account) (@KwesiBabs) August 19, 2020
Netflix dont put this on your streaming platform, you’re once again portraying this islamophobic agenda, and not just that – also sexualising young children. Dont put it on netflix im begging you, we’ve had enough of your false representation of what islam is.
— ⁰³²⁵????????????????⁷生 | SKZ IS COMING (@hyunE_stan) August 20, 2020
The film is originally the brainchild of Maïmouna Doucouré, a French-Senegalese screenwriter and filmmaker who made her directorial debut on this project.
The project even scooped up a Sundance award earlier this year.
In a recent interview with Cineuropa, Doucouré explained that the idea came to her when she witnessed a group of young girls, aged around 11 years old, going up on stage and dancing in a very sensual way while wearing very revealing clothes at a party in her neighbourhood.
“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 were also more traditional mothers, some of them wearing veils: it was a real culture shock,” she said.
— Daniellé beebab DASH (@DanielleDASH) August 20, 2020
Doucouré then says she spent a year interviewing young girls from all sorts of backgrounds in order to determine where they situated themselves as children, as girls, as future women as well as how they placed themselves in society with their girlfriends, their families, at school and with social networks.
She recorded and filmed these responses with the authorisation of the participants’ guardians and parents and used it as source material to develop her film.
Those who have done their research on the project have asked that the film be given a chance and not punished for the choice made by the distributor – which, in this case, would be Netflix.
Why are people attacking the movie “Cuties” by Maimouna Doucoure, well-received at many festivals, before seeing it, based on the description @netflix gave the film?
Save the outrage until you see the movie.
Do we need to trash a film by a woman of color before it is released?
— Bobby Keniston (@BobbyKeniston) August 20, 2020
this is the official french poster of the film!!! please don’t be fooled by netflix’s terrible promo and support maimouna doucouré’s work (this film is based on her own experience as a muslim&senegalese woman and she explores the oversexualisation of little girls in our society) https://t.co/ckycCjpsid pic.twitter.com/uv6UwXlyhq
— ma (@svphialoren) August 20, 2020
UPDATE: Netflix has since apologised for the artwork they chose to use in marketing the film as well as the initial description used on their website about 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
However, this has done little to quell the anger of social media users.