‘Cuties’, a film about a young Senegalese girl, has stirred up a heated backlash against Netflix, US streaming giant, over claims it portrayed children in a sexualised manner.

The hashtag #CancelNetflix had, on Friday, risen to become the top trending topic on Twitter after the controversial award-winning French movie debuted on the streaming platform a day earlier.

This was accompanied by a petition on Change.org calling on Netflix subscribers to cancel their packages on the streaming service “that exploits children and creates a disturbing vibe.”

“As Netflix has chosen to ignore the petition and the wishes of its customers, I feel we need to ban together and cancel our subscriptions! ” the petition signed by over 600,000 people read in part.

‘Cuties’, which was written and directed by Maïmouna Doucouré, a French filmmaker, had premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the world cinema dramatic directing award.

The film is based on Doucouré’s short film ‘Maman(s)’ and follows the narrative of an 8-year-old Senegalese immigrant who is furious after her polygamous dad had invited his new bride into their Parisian apartment.

Parents Television Council (PTC), an advocacy group, stated that young female actors were trained in highly sexualised dance routines, vulgar language, and racy clothing.

The council also claimed that one scene portrayed a female character pulling down her underwear to photograph her genitals to post online while trying to seduce a male family member to get out of trouble for theft.

“Netflix might actually have made the situation worse by suggesting that ‘Cuties’ is nothing more than a cute, coming-of-age movie,” Melissa Henson, program director for PTC, said in a statement.

“Although the film tackles an important topic—one that under different circumstances we might even applaud—it’s the way the film goes about it that’s problematic.”

On his part, James Bradley, a US politician said anyone who supports the movie is “enabling abuse.”

“If you watch 11-year-olds twerk, you’re a pervert. If you direct 11 year olds to touch themselves on camera, you’re a pedophile. If you support Netflix making and airing #Cuties, you’re enabling abuse,” he wrote on Twitter

Netflix defends ‘Cuties’

Variety quoted a Netflix spokesperson as saying that “‘Cuties’ is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children. 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.”



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