Netflix Under Fire for Glorifying Preteen Sexuality Despite the Success of Another Original Documentary

FILE - In this Friday, Jan. 17, 2014, file photo, a person displays Netflix on a tablet in North Andover, Mass. Walmart, AT

 

Seeing the moves made by the platform there is reason to be concerned.

In the promotional material for a new release coming to Netflix next month, a youth drama entitled ”Cuties’’ many have expressed concern. The basis of the film is a young POC girl who tries to find a way to assimilate into French society as a Muslim transplant and she finds that path through a dance group in the area she moved to. Netflix came under pressure for the artwork released for the film, showing the girls in the troupe dressed in form-fitting attire many deemed inappropriate for the ages.

While not one to be uptight about these outrages too often there appears to be validity to the charges. The film itself appears not to be an exploitation issue, but the way Netflix is selling it could be a point of concern. It was written and directed by a Sudanese female, Maïmouna Doucouré, who tapped into her own experiences to make this release for the Sundance Film Festival, where it was purchased by Netflix.

The movie does not shy away from the subject of sexualizing of young girls, but it is used in a way to address both the conflict of strict Muslim mores and the way westernized society may be too aggressive in objectifying young girls. The lead character, who is played by an 11 year old actress, grapples with this tug of opposing forces as she struggles to fit into French society. Netflix has, as it were, not taken the grownup approach to this release.

Take a look at how the French release had its poster compared to the Netflix version.

 In addition, the synopsis offered does not express the same thematic elements that were being highlighted in the Sundance ad copy. 

There was enough of a backlash about this that Netflix has taken down the imagery. But you have to question what was the need to take things in this direction in the first place? Not the lack of emphasis on the international aspects, not the Sundance feature. It is clear the direction this was intended to go, and what makes this all the more questionable is this outlet recently had a popular release that went in the opposite direction. 

This summer one of the more popular documentaries on Netflix was ”Jeffry Epstein – Filthy Rich’’, and that was hardly regarded as a celebration of the late billionaire. His mistreatment of young girls led to speculations on all of the other names attached to his predatory enterprise. The viewing public was far more disgusted than titillated by that documentary.

This makes the decisions surrounding ”Cuties’’ all the more curious. It would almost appear that the marketing executives at Netflix — not unlike Brian Stelter at CNN — do not pay attention to the content that plays on their own platform.