- 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)
D.A.R.E. Accuses HBO’s “Euphoria” of Glorifying Drug Use
The organization believes the drama series could have “negative consequences on school-age children who today face unparalleled risks and mental health challenges.
D.A.R.E. Slams “Euphoria”
HBO’s “Euphoria” has become synonymous with its explicit depictions of teen sex, violence, and addiction. The substance abuse awareness organization D.A.R.E. condemned the series for its lurid content, arguing that it glorifies drug use.
While drugs can weasel their way into any aspect of the show at a moment’s notice, the primary storyline around addiction follows Rue, a high schooler who often resists the help she needs to recover. Zendaya won an Emmy for portraying the struggling protagonist in 2020.
D.A.R.E., also known as Drug Abuse Resistance Education, told TMZ on Wednesday that “Euphoria” is reckless in its handling of such weighted subject matter.
“Rather than further each parent’s desire to keep their children safe from the potentially horrific consequences of drug abuse and other high-risk behavior, HBO’s television drama, Euphoria, chooses to misguidedly glorify and erroneously depict high school student drug use, addiction, anonymous sex, violence, and other destructive behaviors as common and widespread in today’s world,” a representative for the group told the outlet.
“It is unfortunate that HBO, social media, television program reviewers, and paid advertising have chosen to refer to the show as ‘groundbreaking,’ rather than recognizing the potential negative consequences on school-age children who today face unparalleled risks and mental health challenges,” the representative continued.
“Euphoria” Cast and Creator Speak on Heavy Subject Matter
Ahead of the season two premiere, Zendaya warned her followers that much of the content in “Euphoria” is not suitable for all viewers.
“I know I’ve said this before, but I do want to reiterate to everyone that Euphoria is for mature audiences,” she wrote on Instagram. “This season, maybe more so than the last, is deeply emotional and deals with subject matter that can be triggering and difficult to watch. Please only watch it if you feel comfortable.”
Sam Levinson, the creator of “Euphoria,” has been open about his own experience with addiction. Now over a decade sober, Levinson struggled with substance abuse as a teenager, much like Zendaya’s Rue. He feels a personal connection to the story, and therefore, a responsibility to honestly represent the tribulations of addiction.
“The hardest thing about portraying a drug addict is — there are a lot of cautionary tales, there are a lot of after-school specials — but what I really wanted to get to the core of is the pain and the shame about what you’re doing and you’re inability to get clean despite the havoc and destruction you’re wreaking around you,” Levinson said of the show during the ATX Television Festival in 2019, per Deadline.
Levinson noted that he does have to be “mindful of” the risk of glamorizing drug use “just by the sheer nature of it being on screen.”
“We have to be authentic about it,” he explained. “If we’re pulling our punches and we’re not showing the relief that drugs can bring it starts to lose its impact. Drugs are not the solution but they can feel like it at times, and that’s what makes them so destructive.”
Drug Use on Euphoria
Still, D.A.R.E. is far from the first group to express concern over the impact “Euphoria” might have on younger viewers. Before the second season debuted earlier this month, the Parents Television and Media Council released a statement warning of the show’s “imminent threat to the health and well-being of children.”
Before each episode of “Euphoria” airs, HBO flashes a warning to alert viewers of the drug abuse, language, violence, nudity, and sex that will appear in the program. The show might be cavalier in the casual and frequent manner it depicts drug use and other dangerous behavior, but more often than not, characters await the consequences of their actions.
In the most recent episode of “Euphoria,” Rue’s addiction lands her in a visceral screaming match with her sister. The scene underscores the tragic and harsh reality of substance abuse.
While critics push back against the show for a variety of other reasons, they generally praise Rue’s arc, largely thanks to Zendaya’s gripping performance.
But D.A.R.E. argued that the show goes a bridge too far and offered to meet with HBO to hash out the issues.
“We would welcome the opportunity for our team, including members of our high school-aged Youth Advocacy Board, to meet with individuals at HBO who are involved with producing Euphoria to present our concerns directly,” D.A.R.E.’s representative told TMZ.
HBO has not publicly responded to the criticisms.
See what others are saying: (TMZ) (Vanity Fair) (Complex)
Neil Young Asks For His Music to Be Removed From Spotify Over Vaccine Misinformation
The “Harvest Moon” singer told his representatives that the streaming service “can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
Neil Young Wants Music His Off Of Spotify
Musician Neil Young wrote an open letter to his management and record label demanding that his music be taken down from Spotify over concerns about vaccine misinformation.
The “Heart of Gold” singer initially posted the letter on his website, but it has since been removed. According to Rolling Stone, which reported on the document before it was taken down, Young specifically took issue with podcast host Joe Rogan.
“I want you to let Spotify know immediately TODAY that I want all my music off their platform,” he wrote. “They can have Rogan or Young. Not both.”
“The Joe Rogan Experience” is exclusive to Spotify and was the most popular podcast on the platform in 2021. Rogan has regularly received criticism for spreading COVID-19 misinformation that contradicts public health recommendations, specifically when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines.
Rogan previously said that young people should not worry about getting vaccinated against the coronavirus. He has also regularly cited faulty studies questioning their efficacy and interviewed controversial medical personalities who are known for promoting conspiracy theories about the vaccine.
Young said he is afraid of the ramifications of these kinds of remarks.
“I am doing this because Spotify is spreading fake information about vaccines – potentially causing death to those who believe the disinformation being spread by them,” the singer wrote. “Please act on this immediately today and keep me informed of the time schedule.”
Concerns About Joe Rogan’s Vaccine Comments
Young’s manager, Frank Gironda, confrimed the authenticity of the letter to The Daily Beast.
“It’s something that’s really important to Neil,” Gironda said. “He’s very upset about this disinformation. We’re trying to figure this out right now.”
Young is far from the first person to express frustrations over the anti-vax views on the audio streaming service platforms. Earlier this month, a group of doctors and other medical professionals wrote a letter to Spotify urging the company to implement a policy to fight disinformation.
“We are calling on Spotify to take action against the mass-misinformation events which continue to occur on its platform,” the letter said. “With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, [The Joe Rogan Experience] is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Though Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, the company presently has no misinformation policy.”
“This is not only a scientific or medical concern; it is a sociological issue of devastating proportions and Spotify is responsible for allowing this activity to thrive on its platform,” the expert cautioned.
Spotify has not made a public statement regarding Young’s letter.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (The Daily Beast) (The Verge)
Ana de Armas Fans Sue Universal For Removing Actress From “Yesterday” Film
The fans argue that because there were no scenes with de Armas as promised in the trailer, “consumers were not provided with any value for their rental or purchase.”
Ana de Armas Scenes Cut From “Yesterday”
Two fans of Ana de Armas are suing Universal Pictures for including the actress in a trailer for the 2019 film “Yesterday” even though she does not appear in the final cut of the picture.
In a class-action lawsuit filed in California, Conor Woulfe and Peter Michael Rosza said they each spent $3.99 to watch the film after viewing the accompanying trailer on Amazon. They argue the studio’s “advertising and promotion of the movie Yesterday is false, misleading, and deceptive.”
The Danny Boyle-directed comedy follows a man, played by Himesh Patel, who wakes up in a world where no one knows who The Beatles are but him, so he starts playing their music and claiming it as his own. De Armas appears briefly in the trailer as a character competing with the primary love interest, played by Lily James. Writer Richard Curtis said they had to cut de Armas’ part to strengthen the character arcs.
“That was a very traumatic cut, because she was brilliant in it,” Curtis previously told Cinema Blend. “I mean really radiant. And [that] turned out to be the problem…I think the audience did not like the fact that his eyes even strayed. Because then some people would go, ‘Oh, he really doesn’t deserve her. He really doesn’t deserve Lily.’ You know, it’s one of those things where it’s some of our favorite scenes from the film, but we had to cut them for the sake of the whole.”
For Woulfe and Rosza, the choice to cut de Armas is a dealbreaker. They are seeking $5 million on behalf of all impacted consumers.
Fans File Lawsuit Against Universal
“Because consumers were promised a movie with Ana De Armas by the trailer for Yesterday, but did not receive a movie with any appearance of Ana De Armas at all, such consumers were not provided with any value for their rental or purchase,” the lawsuit states.
Patel and James each had credits of their own prior to the release of “Yesterday.” Still, the fans believe that Universal instead used the star power of De Armas, who had recently appeared in “Blade Runner 2049,” to “entice viewership.”
“Unable to rely on fame of the actors playing Jack Malik or Ellie to maximize ticket and movie sales and rentals, Defendant consequently used Ms. De Armas’s fame, radiance and brilliance to promote the film,” the suit continued.
Just a few months after the release of “Yesterday,” de Armas would go on to receive critical acclaim for her role in “Knives Out.” She has since appeared in the latest James Bond film, “No Time to Die.”
Now a much bigger name than in spring of 2019, the lawsuit claims de Armas still appears in trailers on services like Amazon and Google.
“Despite knowing that Ms. De Armas was not in the released version of the movie Yesterday, Defendant has consistently promoted Ms. De Armas as a character starring in the film, by including her scenes in Yesterday’s movie trailers,” the suit states. “Indeed, Defendant continues to promote Ms. De Armas as appearing in the film more than two years after its initial release, in advertisements for movie sales and rentals.”
Universal has not released a statement in response to the lawsuit.