Netflix users have called for the new film Cuties to be removed from the streaming service due to its controversial content.
The film has faced criticism for its portrayal of young girls, after the trailer showed pre-teen girls performing sexualised dance routines.
Why has the film caused controversy?
The film follows the story of 11-year-old Amy, who lives in Paris, as she rebels against her family’s conservative traditions after becoming fascinated with a “free-spirited dance crew”.
The story dramatises the difficulties young girls face growing up in a sexualised media culture, with Amy shown imitating sexualised imagery of young girls without fully understanding what it means.
In the trailer for the film, Amy is shown dancing with her friends in hot pants and crop tops, leading to backlash from viewers and calls for it to be removed from the service.
However, writer and director Maimouna Doucoure has defended the film, stating she considers it to be “a deeply feminist film with an activitist message.
Ms Doucoure said that the story is a “mirror of today’s society” and noted that it is a mirror that is “sometimes difficult to look into”.
The idea for the film came after Ms Doucoure saw a group of 11-year-old girls dancing in such a manner during a neighbourhood gathering in Paris.
Following this, she spent the next 18 months meeting with hundreds of pre-teen girls to learn about how they felt about their femininity in today’s society, as well as their self-image amid the era of social media.
She said: “Our girls see that the more a woman is sexualised on social media, the more she’s successful.
“And the children just imitate what they see, trying to achieve the same result without understanding the meaning. And yeah, it’s dangerous.”
What has Netflix said?
Netflix has defended Cuties as a “social commentary against the sexualisation of young children” and encouraged viewers to watch the film before passing judgement on it.
A spokesman for the steaming service said: “Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualisation 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.”
The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2019, where Ms Doucoure won the world cinema dramatic directing award.
However, despite its success a change.org petition is calling for people to cancel their subscriptions to Netflix over the film.
The petition has already received 600,000 signatures and “#CancelNetflix” has been trending on Twitter.