AUSTIN (KXAN) — Over the weekend, the hashtag #CancelNetflix trended across social media due to ongoing backlash against the French film “Cuties,” which sparked uproar in America after the movie made its way onto streaming giant Netflix.
“Cuties,” a coming-of-age drama about an 11-year-old Senegalese girl in Paris chronicles her journey becoming friends with a group of similarly aged dancers.
The film’s content wasn’t necessarily the reason for the outrage, however.
The original American poster for “Cuties,” differed from the French version, which featured the movie’s young cast in more demure clothing (pants, jackets). The American cover, meanwhile, showed the cast in two-piece dancewear posing suggestively.
Makers of the film, along with Netflix, have defended the female-directed movie, which they say critiques the sexualization of pre-teen girls, according to a Netflix statement.
“’Cuties’ is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” said a spokesperson on Thursday. “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.”
The streaming company did, however, apologize for the film’s American poster, removing it immediately.
“Cuties” has also grabbed the focus of “#SaveTheChildren” QAnon conspiracy theorists, who believe that a “deep state” organization of Satan-worshiping Hollywood elites and Democratic politicians are sex trafficking children.
On Friday, conservative Texas Senator Ted Cruz joined the group of Washington politicians writing to Attorney General William Barr calling for the investigation into whether Netflix violated federal laws against child pornography.
In his letter, Cruz write: “The film routinely fetishizes and sexualizes these pre-adolescent girls as they perform dances simulating sexual conduct in revealing clothing, including at least one scene with partial child nudity.”
Cruz argues that an investigation — and prosecution — would “obtain justice” for victims of child sexual abuse.
Meanwhile, former Democratic Presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard expressed her displeasure with the film via Twitter, claiming it would help fuel child sex trafficking.
Other lawmakers slamming the film include Republican Sen. Tom Cotton and Republican Rep. Jim Banks.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley tweeted a letter to Netflix asking the company to answer a series of questions, including whether protections had been in place for the child actors and why the American poster was included in the first place.
Director Maïmouna Doucouré won an award for her direction of “Cuties,” and the film currently holds an 89% critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes’ aggregator.
Critic Richard Brody, of the New Yorker, summarized what he considers the film and its main argument:
“In fact, the subject of the film is exactly the opposite: it dramatizes the difficulties of growing up female in a sexualized and commercialized media culture. I doubt that the scandal-mongers (who include some well-known figures of the far right) have actually seen “Cuties,” but some elements of the film that weren’t presented in the advertising would surely prove irritating to them: it’s the story of a girl’s outrage at, and defiance of, a patriarchal order.”