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Netflix Apologizes and Changes Marketing Materials for “Cuties” After Backlash

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  • 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)

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Joe Rogan Fans Upset After Podcast Moves Exclusively To Spotify

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  • Some fans of “The Joe Rogan Experience,” said they would no longer be listening to the podcast after it officially became a Spotify exclusive this week.
  • Rogan struck a $100 million deal to house his show exclusively on Spotify in May and has warned fans that this change was coming for months.
  • Now that it has, many have said they dislike Spotify’s ad-supported free version or complained that it was not available in their country. Others were also frustrated that couldn’t use a VPN, among other concerns.
  • Still, many believe Rogan’s podcast is unlikely to suffer as fans adjust.

Joe Rogan Moves To Spotify

Joe Rogan’s podcast, “The Joe Rogan Experience,” officially became a Spotify exclusive on Tuesday.

Because of the change, Rogan’s December 1 episode featuring cryptographer Moxie Marlinspike was only uploaded only to Spotify, prompting a bit of frustration from fans. 

Highlight clips of the episode were still uploaded to the PowerfulJRE YouTube channel. However, there is a message to listen to the full podcast on Spotify at the end of the clip and in the description.

Fans React

It seems like some fans are not happy about the move because in the comment section of one highlight clip, many left their goodbye messages.

“It’s been a hell of a ride guys. See ya,” one user wrote.

“I’m not downloading Spotify so I guess no more Joe Rogan,” another said, while a different listener wrote, “RIP Joe Rogan Experience.”

Some also left comments about also not liking the free, ad-supported version of Spotify.

“Tried listening on Spotify. I can’t handle the 10 straight minutes of ads, and having Joe read them just makes me suddenly able to totally tune out everything he says without even trying to,” one person said.

Sad times for me. Sad to say, I’m not switching to from YouTube premium to Spotify premium for one podcast.”

Others also noted that Spotify isn’t available in their country or that they can’t use a VPN.

Will This Hurt Rogan?

It will be interesting to see if this change actually costs Rogan listeners or if it will better for him in the long run. 

It’s not like he’s been struggling since the slow transfer of his content started happening. Episodes of his podcast only began to appear on Spotify in September, and that was still enough to earn him the title of the platform’s top global podcast of the year.

Plus, this information about him moving exclusively to Spotify this month isn’t exactly new. 

Fans have known this was going to happen for months now as part of that $100 million deal he struck with the company in May, so perhaps Rogan anticipated some of this backlash and an adjustment period. Either way, many feel like the outrage is unlikely to truly hurt the show’s success.

See what others are saying: (Dexerto) (Billboard) (The Hollywood Reporter)

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U.K. Wants Netflix to Add ‘Fiction’ Label to “The Crown”

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  • The U.K. government is set to formally ask Netflix to attach a label to its series “The Crown” that clearly marks it as fiction.
  • The government is concerned viewers may take the events as fact when the show is a historical drama.
  • The request comes after Netflix released the fourth season of the show in mid-November, which covers Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister, the Falklands War, and the Royal family’s tumultuous relationship with Princess Diana.
  • Netflix has attached other labels in the past when covering topics such as mental health, even when the depicted content is fictional.
  • There are also concerns that show writer Peter Morgan has laid out events in a way that could push conspiracy theories, such as those around Princess Diana’s death.

The Crown Ruffles U.K. Feathers

The United Kingdom says it will formally ask Netflix to place a fiction label on its popular series “The Crown.”

The show’s fourth season released in mid-November and has already ruffled feathers in the U.K. In an interview with The Daily Mail on Sunday, U.K. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden confirmed rumors that the government was seeking such a label.

“It’s a beautifully produced work of fiction, so as with other TV productions, Netflix should be very clear at the beginning it is just that,” he said.

“Without this, I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact.”

Many are concerned that scenes depicted by show writer Peter Morgan feed into conspiracy theories about the royal family. Those conspiracy theories largely circulate around Princess Diana, who was introduced in the show this season.  

Princess Diana was a polarizing figure in the royal family. She married Prince Charles in 1981 and was seen as a “modernizing” figure for the royal family. She infamously died in a car crash that has spawned many conspiracy theories about who was responsible.

Even without the theories tying her death to the Royal family, her struggle with her royal in-laws never helped the family’s image.

Fact or Fiction?

A warning label on the show, even on season 4, isn’t completely unheard of. A few episodes delve into Diana’s struggle with bulimia and have health warnings clearly shown before those episodes.

“Those were difficult scenes to film and I also feel like taking her to that place was a good thing,” Emma Corrin, who portrays Princess Diana, told Variety over the weekend.

It gave me somewhere to go with her, but I was exhausted a lot those days coming off set because at the same time as you’re playing someone who’s fictionalized and obviously you’re not feeling or thinking those things, it’s your job to make yourself feel that way,” she added.

There are also pushes to affix a fictional label to the show by members of Diana’s family. Her brother, the Earl Spencer, told ITV, “It would help The Crown [the show] an enormous amount if at the beginning of each episode it stated that, ‘This isn’t true but is based around some real events’. Because then everyone would understand it’s drama for drama’s sake.”

Regarding the show’s fictionality, Corrin told talk show host Tamron Hall,“I think for everyone in “The Crown,” we always try and remind everyone that… the series we are in is fictionalized to a great extent.”

“Obviously it has its roots in reality and in some fact but Peter Morgan’s scripts are works of fiction.”

However, Morgan’s stance on fiction blurs the line a little. In the past, Morgan has defended his approach to the show, commenting, “You sometimes have to forsake accuracy, but you must never forsake truth.”

For critics, that thought process can lead to misrepresentations of what happened for the sake of a spun narrative. For example, in season 4 there’s a scene where Princess Diana is distressed and alone in her bedroom when Prince Philip, her father-in-law, approaches and asks what’s wrong.

She tells him she just wants to get away and he makes it clear that it won’t end well if she does. Diana replies, “I hope that isn’t a threat, Sir.”

Critics of the show claim this line is a way to foreshadow Diana’s death and a subtle nod to the theory that the Royals orchestrated her death.

In 1999, French police debunked that claim and put sole responsibility for the crash on her driver, who they claim was intoxicated at the time of the accident. Otherwise, the media and paparazzi are criticized for following her life so closely, particularly on the night of her death, prompting her driver to speed away dangerously.

Netflix has yet to make any comments about the U.K.’s looming request.

See What Others Are Saying: (Variety) (Radio Times) (Vulture)

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South Korea Postpones BTS’ Mandatory Military Service for Two Years

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  • On Tuesday, South Korea’s Parliament approved a revision to the country’s Military Service Act, granting a two-year military conscription deferral for BTS’ oldest member, Jin.
  • Jin turns 28 on Friday. Under normal requirements, all able-bodied South Korean men must join the country’s military by then, meaning Jin only had several days left to sign up.
  • In fact, all seven BTS members will now be able to defer their military service period until the time they turn 30.
  • The revision comes after a year-long debate over whether internationally successful male K-pop groups are influential enough to be granted tightly-regulated exemptions they normally would not be able to receive. 
  • BTS alone is estimated to account for $4.65 billion of South Korea’s Gross Domestic Product. 

BTS Is Granted a Military Service Deferral

Kim Seok-jin, also known as Jin, is the oldest member of the global K-pop phenomenon BTS. On Friday, he’ll turn 28. While that news might not normally capture headlines, it coincided with his deadline to conscript in South Korea’s military — a prospect that held the potential to upheave the group’s ever-growing success.

On Tuesday, South Korea’s Parliament changed that deadline when it passed a revision to the country’s Military Service Act in a 270-2​ vote. Now, top K-pop performers can postpone their conscription until they turn 30, meaning BTS will be able to remain fully intact for the next two years. 

K-pop stars will only be eligible for the deferral if they have received government medals for helping to spread South Korea’s ​cultural influence internationally. Notably, all seven members of BTS have met that requirement because they all received such medals in 2018.

The legislation was introduced in South Korea’s parliament in September, shortly after BTS became the first K-pop group to reach No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for “Dynamite.”

At the time, Representative Jeon Yong-gi argued that top pop stars — including BTS — should receive the deferral if they have raised the country’s national prestige. 

Another lawmaker argued that BTS should be able to receive a full exemption. Currently, such exemptions are extremely rare, and only a few hundred have been handed out since 2008. Even then, they usually only go to classical musicians or athletes who’ve won medals in the Olympic or Asian Games. They’ve never been granted to any pop stars. 

“There was a football player who was offered an exemption by playing for just four minutes at the 2014 London Olympics,” that lawmaker, Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun, wrote on social media, arguing that BTS’ success and economic effect outweighed that event.

BTS and the Debate Over Military Exemptions

The debate over a possible military exemption for BTS has been raging for more than a year now. 

In September 2019, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense said such an exemption was not possible. 

In October of that same year, Noh Hyeong-ouk, the country’s Minister of Government Policy Coordination, said South Korea’s mandatory conscription system should reflect the current times.

“We need to review the need for an open-door policy regarding special exceptions from military service in the K-pop industry, in order to provide motives for Korea’s expansion as a cultural content powerhouse,” he argued. 

That back and forth continued until November 2019 when the Ministry of National Defense seemed to put the speculation to rest by saying that BTS will still be required to conscript. Alongside that, it also imposed stricter rules on granting exemptions at all.

That decision was made, in part, because of a declining birthrate in South Korea. Currently, South Korea has about 600,000 active soldiers but by 2022, it projects that number will fall to 500,000. Over the next two decades, the ministry expects that number to shrink again by half. Low numbers like that could impede the country’s ability to continue imposing pressure on North Korea.

According to South Korean law, all able-bodied men must conscript in the country’s military by the time they turn 28. They must then serve at least 18 months or risk a number of repercussions, including being barred from international travel — a not so good prospect for a world-famous pop group.

On Monday, BTS made further history as their new single, “Life Goes On,” became the first Korean-language song to top the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. In 2019, The Hollywood Reporter estimated that BTS accounted for a jawdropping $4.65 billion of South Korea’s GDP.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (CBS News) (Reuters)

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