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Netflix Apologizes Over Promotion of 'Cuties,' A Film By A Black Muslim

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  • Tip Bones

Being Muslim, Black and a woman artist trying to make a name for yourself in the biggest and most competitive industry in the world is already hard enough without having Netflix ruin the promotion of your movie. 

On August 20, Netflix issued an apology to the creator of the French film Cuties, or Mignonnes in French. Why were they apologizing? Well, initially, when Netflix first released the promotion and trailer for the film on their site, they had released it with pictures and a description that depicted the movie with a pedophilic lens, sexualizing the 11-year-olds in the film Cuties. 

The promotion for the film was so provocative that a petition was put together demanding that the film not be shown on the site because of its message. However, Netflix's promotion did not accurately represent the message or the content of the film. It does not sexualize the young girls, but rather tackle the issue of young girls' sexualization in modern society. 

"Pedophilia is being normalised, people. We need to fight it," said one user in a comment on the movie's trailer on YouTube, which demonstrates the affects of the film's promotion.

Viewers quickly came to shame Netflix on their depiction of it. The movie is based on the life of the writer and director of the movie Maïmouna Doucouré, a French-Senegalese filmmaker. It was supposed to be her directorial debut about dealing with the duality of cultures growing up and finding an escape from a strict household. The film follows 11-year-old Amy, who joins a girls dance group. Doucouré has explained that the movie highlights how people, young girls specifically, are pressured to blindly follow things that may be presented as norms (quite often sexualized) on social media without fully understanding the implications of that and the consequences. 

She had seen extremely young girls herself on social media that had massive followings, seemingly only because they danced or presented photos of themselves in provocative ways. "Today, the sexier and the more objectified a woman is, the more value she has in the eyes of social media. And when you're 11, you don't really understand all these mechanisms, but you tend to mimic, to do the same thing as others in order to get a similar result. I think it is urgent that we talk about it, that a debate be had on the subject," she said in an interview. 

the original description of the movie was the following: "Amy, 11 years old, tries to escape family dysfunction by joining a free-spirited dance clique named Cuties, as they become aware of their own femininity through dance." It was later on changed to "Eleven-year-old Amy starts to rebel against her conservative family's traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew."

The public is outraged at the depiction of the movie in that was initially, especially with the selection of images, description, and the choice of clips. 

Before the anger provoked by the Netflix fiasco, Maïmouna Doucouré won the Dramatic Directing Award for the film at the Sundance Film Festival this year and was nominated for the Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the same festival.