Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos defends 'Cuties' over sexualization of young girls, says movie being 'misunderstood'

Critics have raised objections over the content of the film, which shows four pre-teen girls dancing in a suggestive manner

                            Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos defends 'Cuties' over sexualization of young girls, says movie being 'misunderstood'
(Getty Images)

Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos defended his firm's decision to continue streaming the controversial movie 'Cuties,' and expressed his disapproval of censorship of storytelling after a Texas grand jury criminally indicted the streaming giant for depicting children in a lewd manner. The coming-of-age film, directed by French-Senegalese director Maimouna Doucoure, follows the story of a rebellious 11-year-old Parisian girl Amy who joins a dance group started by three other girls. Critics have raised objections over the content of the film, which shows four pre-teen girls dancing in a suggestive manner. Netflix has described the film as a "social commentary against the sexualization of young girls." A grand jury in Texas, however, indicted the streaming giant under a law that bars the "lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of an unclothed, partially clothed, or clothed child" and said the film had "no serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."

With Netflix possibly facing a fine, the firm's CEO slammed the decision by the jury at Mipcom entertainment market on Monday, October 12, saying: "It's a little surprising in 2020 America that we're having a discussion about censoring storytelling. It's a film that is very misunderstood with some audiences, uniquely within the United States." Sarandos made the comment at Mipcom where he also received the Variety Vanguard Award, Deadline reported.

Chief Content Officer for Netflix Ted Sarandos speaks onstage during the Netflix portion of the 2015 Summer TCA Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on July 28, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Getty Images)

"The film speaks for itself. It's a very personal coming of age film, it's the director's story and the film has obviously played very well at Sundance without any of this controversy and played in theaters throughout Europe without any of this controversy," Sarandos added. 

Many of social media, however, denounced Sarandos' stance, with one writing: "They could have used older actresses to tell the story of what they went through or something along those lines But they jumped the shark with using actual children & having them dance/perform like strippers And wtf is wrong with their parents and the other adults in the show?" Another added: "Children stroking their genitals and humping the floor is not a misunderstanding." A third wrote: "I'm just gonna throw this out there and suggest "sorry" would have been a much better response."






Turkey's broadcasting watchdog, last month, had issued a statement over the film, saying it would order Netflix to block access locally to the film citing that it contained images of child exploitation. The film, however, earned the director a cinema dramatic directing award at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in January. Netflix, however, has agreed that its marketing of the film did not reflect the deeper message of the movie, which resulted in a social media campaign to #CancelNetflix in September. 

IMDB, in its synopsis of the Sundance winner film, states: "Amy, an 11-year-old girl, joins a group of dancers named "the cuties" at school, and rapidly grows aware of her burgeoning femininity - upsetting her mother and her values in the process." The website, however, also points out certain scenes in the film under 'parental advisory,' one of them being: "A pair of tight leather pants on an 11-year-old girl is forcefully pulled down in the midst of a scuffle; the camera glances at her panty exposed bum." While the description of another scene, states: "An adult dancer shows her breast at the end of a dance video that two children characters are watching on a phone."

Doucoure, however, defended her film in a Washington Post op-ed, stating that her film was about the objectification of women and children and the pressure pre-teen girls feel to become beautiful and sexy. 

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, in September, had also expressed his views on the controversial film, calling on the Justice Department to probe whether any laws banning child pornography were violated by the film. Cruz, however, had not seen the film by then.

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