Just days after Disney was confronted with renewed calls for boycotting “Mulan” over human rights-related issues, Netflix is facing its own boycott movement.
The Netflix controversy was sparked by its Sept. 9 streaming debut of a French film, “Mignonnes,” or “Cuties.”
Critics on social media are accusing the film of sexualizing its young stars — some based on a promotional image that’s since been withdrawn, and some without having actually seen the film.
By Sept. 10, the issue was a top trending topic, driven by more than 200,000 tweets with the hashtag #CancelNetflix.
And a new petition on Change.org calling for subscribers to cancel Netflix had drawn more than 600,000 signatures.
The movie’s director, Maïmouna Doucouré, a French Sengalese Black woman, won a César award in 2017 for her film “Mamans,”and a Sundance global film-making screenplay award for “Cuties,” enabling the movie’s subsequent development, reports The Guardian.
The film, which has since won a Sundance director’s award, tells the story of an 11-year-old Sengalese Muslim girl who is “torn between the traditional values of her background and a group of rebellious young girls,” per a synopsis.
The movie reportedly includes scenes of girls performing sexualized dances and other sexual scenarios.
Netflix first encountered trouble when it began to promote the coming movie in August, after the film had debuted in movie theaters in France. After a furor arose over its use of an image showing the girls in tube tops, posing suggestively, Netflix apologized and replaced the “inappropriate” artwork with new images (above).
Nevertheless, a Change.org petition posted in August that called for Netflix to cancel the planned Sept. 9 release of “Cuties” drew more than 160,000 signatures.
In response to the renewed controversy, Netflix is encouraging critics and others to watch the movie before drawing conclusions.
“’Cuties’ is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” Netflix said in a statement. “It’s an award-winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up — and we’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie.”
In a video accompanying the film on Netflix, the director explains that it portrays the “dangerous” perception created among girls who see that “the more a woman is sexualized on social media, the more she’s successful.”