Photo by sitthiphong via Shutterstock

A new French independent film on Netflix, “Cuties,” sparked controversy on social media due to its sexualization of young children. Subsequently, many Netflix viewers said they canceled their subscriptions to the streaming service.

An analytics firm, Antenna, showed that Netflix subscription cancellations in the U.S. rose five times when the movie released.

“It doesn’t matter what ‘Cuties’ is about,” author Chad Felix Greene said on twitter.

“They sexually exploited little girls in order to film it,” Greene said. “That’s all that matters.”

The 2020 film is about an 11-year-old girl, Amy, who joins a dance group at school and “rapidly grows aware of her burgeoning femininity – upsetting her mother and her values in the process,” the movie’s IMDb says.

“She’s looking for acceptance – and ways to rebel. But for a girl raised in a strict culture, these are risky moves,” the Netflix logline states.

The film premiered in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 23, where director Maïmouna Doucouré won the Directing Award. ‘Cuties’ premiered internationally Sept. 9 2020 on Netflix.

The film debut came with a hashtag across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, #SaveOurChildren. Recent news has Americans concerned about child trafficking in the country. 

One of the biggest critiques of the film was Netflix’s original movie poster, which showed multiple young girls in revealing outfits dancing. 

Kelsi Swift has started a Change.org petition to cancel Netflix. 

“Please make the choice to prove to Netflix our children are more valuable than our entertainment, and our money is better spent elsewhere!” the campaign website reads. 

In an interview with Netflix Film Club, Doucouré says she got the idea for the film when seeing neighborhood kids dancing like they were in a music video. 

“Our girls see that the more a woman is overly sexualized on social media, the more she is successful,”  Doucouré said.

“And the children just imitate what they see… and it’s dangerous,” she said. 

Doucouré said the film reflects her childhood, growing up in two cultures, and figuring out her own femininity.

Other viewers say the film is all about real life.

@Celine_TM on twitter is a Congolese/South African actor and tweeted: “I thought it was brilliant? Heartbreaking? Amazing? Maybe from a fellow former lanky immigrant child from religious family who wanted to dance- real and relatable AF.”

Written ByJulia Harrold

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