- Many accused Netflix of misrepresenting the French film “Cutie” and hypersexualizing children in its recent promotions for it.
- Netflix has apologized and updated its marketing materials for the film, calling its previous poster and description “inappropriate.”
- The film actually earned positive reviews and an award at the 2020 Sundance festival earlier this year, with some calling it a provocative coming of age film that raises questions about today’s “destruction of innocence.”
- Still, issues were not just about marketing. Some feel the film is inappropriate, especially since it relies on young actresses to tell its story. As a result, many want Netflix to pull it from its Sept. 9th release.
What is “Cuties” About?
Netflix apologized Thursday for how it promoted the French film “Cuties,” after widespread backlash online.
“We’re deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Cuties. It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which premiered at Sundance,” it said in a statement. “We’ve now updated the pictures and description.”
The film in question hasn’t actually come out on Netflix yet, and it’s set to release on September 9. However, if you’ve spent anytime online lately, you might have noticed people already bashing it, saying it sexualizes children and should be removed from the site.
The film premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, earning the Directing Jury Award. According to early reviews, the movie revolves around an 11-year-old girl named Amy who comes from a traditional Senegalese Muslim household. She lives with her mother and two younger brothers in one of Paris’ poorest neighborhoods after immigrating from Senegal. As they wait for their father to meet up with them with a new second wife, Amy becomes intrigued by a group of girls in a Hip Hop dance group called the Cuties.
These appear to be a more rowdy group whose acceptance Amy desperately wants, which pushes her to explore her own femininity. However, her mother sees this intrigue and her daughter’s behavior as an opposition to her traditional values.
Some have described it as a provocative coming of age film, and have argued that it was “designed to shock mature audiences into a contemplation of today’s destruction of innocence.”
Netflix Marketing Backlash, Explained
While it was generally well-received at Sundance, a lot of people aren’t happy with it right now.
Netflix published the trailer on Tuesday and began promoting it on its site with a poster and synopsis that earned it a wave of backlash. For example, many compared the French version of the poster for “Cuties” to the poster Netflix released, saying original aligns more with a typical coming of age film.
Others looked at the Netflix synopsis, which read: “Amy, 11, becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew. Hoping to join them, she starts to explore her femininity, defying her family’s traditions.”
By contract, the IMBD description reads: “Amy, an 11-year-old girl, joins a group of dancers named ‘the cuties’ at school, and rapidly grows aware of her burgeoning femininity – upsetting her mother and her family values in the process.”
Many people noticed these differences and called out Netflix for what seemed like intentional decisions to hypersexualize children.
Almost immediately, many were uncomfortable by the film after seeing the Netflix poster, paired with its description and the fact that the film was given a TV-MA rating. To many, it really looks like a movie about 11-year-olds twerking that was made for adults.
Apparently even, 4chan users found the film so concerning that moderators have banned people from posting imagery from the project, saying anyone who does will be permanently banned.
“Netflix may allow this crap, 4chan does not,” the warning reads.
General Outrage Over Film’s Premise
All of this is not to say that the outrage is just about the marketing. There are many who are also just not fans of the film’s concept in general. In fact, there’s currently a change.org petition with more than 70,000 signatures asking for Netflix to remove the film because it “promotes child pornography.”
That petition also claims that it “was created for the entertainment of pedophiles.”
Still, there are some positive reviews for “Cuties.” It currently has an 82% on Rotton Tomatoes based on 17 reviews. Plus, more and more people are starting to turn to a Cineurope interview the film’s writer and director, Maïmouna Doucouré, gave earlier this summer, which provides some insight into what inspired the project.
In it, she said she came up with the concept after seeing “a group of young girls aged around 11 years old going up on stage and dancing in a very sensual way while wearing very revealing clothes” She said she was “shocked” and wondered “if they were aware of the image of sexual availability that they were projecting.” Meanwhile, in the audience, she noticed more traditional mothers, some wearing veils, adding: “it was a real culture shock.”
“I was stunned and I thought back to my own childhood, because I’ve often asked myself questions about my own femininity, about evolving between two cultures, about my Senegalese culture which comes from my parents and my western culture. But I needed the 2020 version of that youth.” To do that, she gathered stories from young girls to help create her film.
Later in the interview, she said her film isn’t a health and safety ad. “This is most of all an uncompromising portrait of an 11-year-old girl plunged in a world that imposes a series of dictates on her. It was very important not to judge these girls, but most of all to understand them, to listen to them, to give them a voice, to take into account the complexity of what they’re living through in society, and all of that in parallel with their childhood which is always there, their imaginary, their innocence.”
However, she also added that during her research, she noticed how much social media had impacted young girls, saying: “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.”
After reading that, more people seem to understand what the goal of this film is, but others still think its inappropriate and take issue with a lot of the imagery, especially since these actors are also young girls.
As of now, Netflix has not announced any plans to drop the film. It’s updated description currently reads: “Eleven-year-old Amy starts to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew.”
See what others are saying: (The Observer) ( (Fox Business) (Deadline)
Halyna Hutchins Family Settles With “Rust” Production, Filming to Resume in 2023
Alec Baldwin said everyone involved was motivated by the “desire to do what is best for Halyna’s son.”
The family of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, who was fatally shot on the set of “Rust” last year, reached a settlement with the production over a wrongful death lawsuit on Wednesday.
The lawsuit was filed in February, several months after Hutchins’ death in New Mexico last October. The cast and crew were rehearsing a scene that involved producer and actor Alec Baldwin pointing a gun toward the camera. Baldwin claims he did not know it was loaded when it fired, killing Hutchins and injuring director Joel Souza.
The actor also claims he did not actually pull the trigger, but investigators determined it must have been pulled.
Hutchins’ husband Matthew filed the wrongful death suit on behalf of himself and his young son. It claimed that the production did not follow proper safety procedures and endangered the crew via reckless cost-cutting measures. Baldwin was listed as a defendant, as well as the set’s armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, first assistant director, Dave Halls, and others involved with the film.
The amount of the settlement was not disclosed, but as part of the agreement, the production of “Rust” will resume in January 2023. The late cinematographer’s husband will join the project as an executive producer.
“I have no interest in engaging in recriminations or attribution of blame (to the producers or Mr. Baldwin),” he said in a statement. “All of us believe Halyna’s death was a terrible accident. I am grateful that the producers and the entertainment community have come together to pay tribute to Halyna’s final work.”
A Tribute to Hutchins
Souza will return as the director. In a statement, he said his “every effort on this film will be devoted to honoring” Hutchins.
For his part, Baldwin shared the news of the settlement on his Instagram Wednesday morning.
“Throughout this difficult process, everyone has maintained the specific desire to do what is best for Halyna’s son,” he wrote. “We are grateful to everyone who contributed to the resolution of this tragic and painful situation.”
There is still an ongoing criminal probe happening separately from this lawsuit. It is unclear what impact the settlement will have on that, if any.
Last month, Santa Fe District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies sent a letter to the New Mexico Board of Finance seeking additional funding to prosecute up to four people over the incident, including Baldwin. So far, no charges have been filed.
In April, the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau fined the production after it found multiple safety violations on set.
See what others are saying: (The Los Angeles Times) (The Hollywood Reporter) (Deadline)
The Try Guys Address Removal of Ned Fulmer: “We Had No Idea This Was Going On”
The group said that by severing ties with Fulmer, it felt like they were losing a friend.
“That Is Not What We Stand For”
Digital comedy and sketch group The Try Guys posted a video on Monday night explaining the recent removal of member Ned Fulmer.
Last week, the Internet was filled with speculation that Fulmer, who is married with children, was having an affair with a staffer for The Try Guys. Fulmer confirmed the reports, claiming he had a “consensual workplace relationship.” The Try Guys quickly announced that Fulmer would no longer be working with the group as the result of an internal review.
In Monday’s video, the remaining three members, Eugene Lee Yang, Zach Kornfeld, and Keith Habersberger, explained what led to their decision to remove Fulmer. While the trio noted there were legal issues that prevented them from sharing certain details, they wanted to be as transparent as possible.
“On Labor Day weekend, multiple fans alerted us that they had seen Ned and an employee engaging in public romantic behavior,” Habersberger explained. “We reached out to check on that employee and Ned confirmed the reports, and since confirmed that this had been going on for some time, which was obviously very shocking to us.”
He emphasized that the rest of the group “had no idea this was going on.”
After this, The Try Guys reached out to a variety of lawyers and HR professionals to make sure they handled the situation correctly.
“This is something we took very seriously,” Yang said. “We refused to sweep things under the rug. That is not who we are, and that is not what we stand for.”
Removing Fulmer From Content
They decided to immediately remove Fulmer from work activities and hired an HR rep to conduct a review. Fulmer was also withdrawn from releases pending the results of that review.
As part of this, his video section was erased, he was digitally taken out of some content, and he was not included in merch drops. The Try Guys said this was a long and tedious process.
“Honestly, I want to give major props to our editing staff for how deftly they handled that,” Kornfeld said. “There are several videos that we have deemed as fully unreleasable, you will never see them, and that is due to his involvement. And that is a decision that has cost us lots of money.”
“We will not be able to recoup that money,” he continued. “But it’s a decision we stand by proudly.”
The group declined to share details of the review but claimed it found that Fulmer engaged in “conduct unbecoming” of the team. Because of this, Yang, Kornfeld, and Habersberger gave written consent on Sept. 16 to ax Fulmer as a manager and employee of The Try Guys company.
The three said they were always planning to make a public statement about their decision, but were initially waiting out of respect to the families and employees involved. As online speculation arose, they chose to deal with it sooner.
“We’re losing a friend, we’re losing someone we built a company with, we have countless memories with, we just made a TV show together,” Kornfeld said. “I’m sure many of you feel the same way.”
According to the group, some upcoming videos featuring Fulmer will be edited to remove him. They said they are currently taking time to reimagine their channel.
Bruce Willis Denies Rumors He Sold His Likeness For Deepfake Use
Deepfakes face criticism from Hollywood to social media.
Willis Debunks Rumors
Actor Bruce Willis denied rumors over the weekend that he sold his likeness to the deepfake company DeepCake.
Willis agreed last year for his face to be used in a commercial for a Russian telecoms company. For this commercial, DeepCake digitally edited Willis’ face onto a Russian actor. This sparked rumors that Willis had sold the rights to his likeness for the company to use in future projects.
However, both management for Willis and DeepCake itself denied any partnership or agreement for these rights.
“Bruce couldn’t sell anyone any rights, they are his by default,” DeepCake said.
Agreements for the AI generation of actors have been heard of before, however. Recently, actor James Earl Jones agreed for his voice to be technologically generated for the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars franchise.
This comes as deepfakes are facing mounting criticism online, including from prominent YouTube personality and author, Hank Green. He recently tweeted about a channel that uses similar deepfake technology and AI-voice generation to parody popular YouTube creators. He stressed his concern that while the channel in question may not be nefarious, this technology could end up being harmful.
“There are ways to do this that would be much worse, more mean spirited, and more exploitative than this,” Green said. “And I’m very worried about what that will look like, because if this is working (and allowed), people will do it.”
Among other issues, Green mentioned these videos could abuse monetization and sponsorship opportunities while exploiting someone else’s face and brand. Green even implored YouTube to evaluate its terms of service as the popularity of deepfakes rise.