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'Cuties' controversy: Petition to charge Netflix with minor exploitation draws more than 630K signs

The film has been at the center of controversy since the promo image of the movie was released and it has been accused of hyper sexualizing teen girls
Cuties (Netflix)
Cuties (Netflix)

Troubles and dissent towards the French film ‘Mignonnes’ or ‘Cuties’ seem to be growing each day. The film has been at the center of controversy since the promo image of the movie was released. The movie, written and directed by Maïmouna Doucouré, follows an 11-year-old Senegalese immigrant, Amy (Fathia Youssouf), who upsets her mother by opting to join the Cuties, a crew of dancers who rehearse after school. It shows four pre-teen girls dancing in a suggestive manner. The film was released on September 9 on Netflix.

After facing backlash on the promo image, Netflix had tweeted an apology. However, #CancelNetflix began trending on Twitter on September 10, as users expressed their outrage at the streaming service for not removing the film from its platform. It also got support from the Hawaii Army National Gaurd and the US Representative for Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district Tusli Gabbard. She wrote on Twitter, ".@netflix child porn 'Cuties' will certainly whet the appetite of pedophiles & help fuel the child sex trafficking trade. 1 in 4 victims of trafficking are children. It happened to my friend's 13-year-old daughter. Netflix, you are now complicit. #CancelNetflix."


But apart from the social media outrage, there were petitions started as well. One of them was ‘Petition to Remove Cuties From Netflix & Charge Them with Distribution & Exploiting Minors’. It was started by a person named Allison Mitchell and the signature goal was set at 1,000,000, of which, at the time of publishing, more than 630,000 signs were achieved.

The description of the petition reads: "3 weeks ago I made this petition for Netflix to remove Cuties. They ignored the 1million+ signs total from all the petitions combined and chose to air the film. It was far worse than imagined. It contains inappropriate sexual material of minors (11 year olds) The actresses themselves are eleven! I am updating this petition to redirect signatures to the FBI and call for the investigation of the parents, staff, director, and ESPECIALLY Netflix. They all need to be charged for distribution of inappropriate content involving a minor(s)! These signatures will be forwarded to the FBI and the child exploitation unit, you can also help by sending in a tip here:"

There’s another petition which urges users to cancel their Netflix subscription. The petition has so far garnered more than 649,000 signatures.

A recent Variety report quotes director Doucouré speaking at the virtual event '10 Talents to Watch' panel, hosted by French promotion organization UniFrance, as saying: "The controversy started with that artwork… The most important (thing) is to watch the film and understand we have the same fight." She further stated, "I thought the film would be accepted. It played to Sundance and was watched by American people there; I met the public there and they really saw that the film is about a universal issue." She added, "We need to protect our children. What I want to is to open people’s eyes on this issue and try to fix it." She also said that it is "important and necessary to create a debate and find solutions as filmmakers, politicians, and within the educational system".

There were people who were raging against the film. One user said, "@Netflix cancel Cuties or I cancel Netflix..horrible." Another said, "So.... I took the bullet and watched Cuties. The negative response it received from audience is more than deserving!! Literally a movie that sexualizes girls throughout the entire movie until the last SEVEN MINUTES AND THEN SAYS ITS BAD TO DO THAT!!"  One commented, "If you actually think cuties is ok you need serious help."