- 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)
Netflix Reinstates Employee Who Crashed Director-Level Meeting After Criticizing Dave Chapelle
Terra Field had publicly accused Chappelle of making transphobic remarks in his new stand-up special “The Closer” just days before she was suspended.
Netflix Reinstates Terra Field
Netflix reinstated a transgender employee who was critical of Dave Chappelle’s new stand-up special after suspending her for attending a director-level meeting without an invitation.
Terra Field tweeted on Tuesday that she was reinstated once the company determined “there was no ill-intent in” her decision to attend the meeting.
“I’m going to take a few days off to decompress and try to figure out where I’m at,” she added. “At the very least, I feel vindicated.”
Field also shared an email Netflix sent her regarding her suspension being lifted.
“Our investigation did not find that you joined the QBR meeting with any ill intent and that you genuinely didn’t think there was anything wrong with seeking access to this meeting,” the email said. “Additionally, when a Director shared the link it further supported that this was a meeting you could attend.”
Field’s suspension came just days after she tweeted a viral thread criticizing Chappelle’s latest program on Netflix, “The Closer.” She was one of many activists who claimed Chappelle’s set was transphobic and encouraged Netflix to take action. Field wrote that his comments attacked “the very validity of transness.” Netflix insisted those tweets had nothing to do with her suspension.
Field reportedly attended the director-level meeting with two other employees who were also suspended. A spokesperson for Netflix told Deadline that those two staffers have likewise been reinstated and the company “will be distributing broader guidance about meetings and clarifying which are for which people.”
Netflix’s Response to Dave Chappelle Controversy
Netflix, for its part, has defended Chappelle and rejected calls to remove “The Closer” from the streaming service.
“It never feels good when people are hurting, especially our colleagues,” Netflix co-CEO Ted Srandos wrote in an internal memo. “You should also be aware that some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.”
“We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line,” he added. “I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”
Among other things, Chappelle took time in his special to defend author J.K. Rowling, who previously faced backlash over a series of transphobic remarks she made. Chappelle said he agreed with Rowling.
“I’m team TERF,” he added. “I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact.”
Chappelle went on to make jokes about Caitlyn Jenner before comparing the genitalia of transgender women to Beyond and Impossible meat.
Many employees at Netflix are still frustrated with the way the platform has handled the controversy surrounding “The Closer.” According to The Verge, a trans employee resource group is planning a walkout on Oct. 20.
“Trans Lives Matter. Trans Rights Matter,” the group said in a memo. “And as an organization, Netflix has continually failed to show deep care in our mission to Entertain the World by repeatedly releasing content that harms the Trans community and continually failing to create content that represents and uplifts Trans content. We can and must do better!”
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Deadline) (The New York Times)
Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch May Have Abandoned Plans To Participate In TikTok NFT Program
Lil Nas X’s TikTok NFT was scheduled to debut a week ago and is still not available to the public.
Creators Allegedly Leave TikTok’s NFT Program
Musicians Lil Nas X and Bella Poarch may have quietly exited TikTok’s new NFT collection, according to a report from Rolling Stone.
TikTok first announced the line, which is called “TikTok Top Moments,” at the end of September. It involves a series of creator-led NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are unique and tradeable digital assets. TikTok’s NFTs can be purchased with the cryptocurrency Ethereum. According to a press release, the money will “largely go directly to the creators and NFT artists involved.”
TikTok said that creators like Poarch, Lil Nas X, Grimes, Curtis Roach, Brittany Broski, and more would be participating in the program. The company called NFTs an “empowerment tool” that will allow these creators to “be recognized and rewarded for their content.” It planned to debut the collection on Oct. 6 with Lil Nas X’s NFT, but that token has still not been made available. A source told Rolling Stone that it may never be released.
NFT Rollout Described as “A Mess”
The outlet also reported that Poarch is “actively contemplating pulling out of the program due to worries about its execution.” According to Rolling Stone, three sources familiar with the rollout of the program have described it as “a challenge,” “a mess,” and “a complete joke.”
Those sources claimed that in order to secure Poarch’s initial participation, TikTok offered her marketing support worth potentially $4 million for her next release. The company also allegedly promised to use one of her songs in an end-of-year campaign. A spokesperson for TikTok, however, described these claims as “not accurate.”
Neither Poarch nor Lil Nas X has commented on their participation yet. Meanwhile, TikTok declined to answer Rolling Stone’s questions about the status of their NFTs.
Some of TikTok’s announced NFTs have gone public, though. Throughout Tuesday, Roach’s “Bored in the House” video was up for auction on the platform Immutable.
NFTs took the internet by storm in early 2021, but their popularity peaked in May and declined throughout the summer. Celebrities, tech moguls, and everyday people featured in viral memes have hopped on the trend and made millions doing so.
According to Rolling Stone, TikTok has valued some of its own NFTs at $1 million. Now, it’s unclear if those tokens will ever hit the market.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Dexerto)
Ariana Grande, Bella Hadid, and Others Honor World Mental Health Day
A slew of stars acknowledged the day by sharing personal stories and making hefty donations to organizations that offer mental health resources.
Celebrities Donate to Mental Health Organizations
Major celebrities honored World Mental Health Day on Sunday by speaking candidly about their mental health struggles and donating to nonprofits.
Singer Ariana Grande announced that she is donating $5 million worth of free therapy through the online counseling platform Better Help. The star previously partnered with the company over the summer to give $1 million in therapy to fans and opted to throw more money at the program following its success.
“I acknowledge that there are very real barriers when it comes to accessing mental health resources, and while this is only one small gesture (and a much larger systemic problem remains) I wanted to do this again with @betterhelp in hopes of bringing access to a few more people and perhaps inspiring a few of you to try something new and prioritize your own healing,” Grande wrote on Instagram.
Those interested can sign up for a free first month of Better Help and get an additional 15% off the second month.
Model Bella Hadid also pledged to donate to mental health resources. She teamed up with the beverage company Kin Euphorics, which will donate 10% of its October sales to Gurls Talk, a nonprofit that gives adolescent girls a space to talk about mental health, along with various educational tools to aid those discussions. Hadid will match those donations.
“Dealing with mental illness for most of my life, bringing awareness to the education of mental health through my platform is something that I will continue to do until our mental is just as respected as our physical,” Hadid wrote. “I want everyone who struggles daily to know that you are not alone.”
Stars Share Resources and Personal Stories
Meanwhile, actress and singer Selena Gomez used her new makeup brand Rare Beauty to share statistics about the prevalence of mental illness and the efforts to combat it. The company, which has previously focused on several mental health initiatives, shared that just 1.3% of philanthropic investments go towards supporting mental health.
The company additionally cited information from an American Psychological Association report, which revealed that young people are particularly vulnerable to mental health struggles. It found that seven out of 10 Gen Z adults are more likely to report experiencing depression symptoms compared to other generations.
Gomez shared Rare Beauty’s post to her own story as well.
Singer Olivia Rodrigo similarly opened up about mental health and therapy during an interview with CBS that aired Sunday. In it, she said she has been in therapy since she was 16, which she believes has helped her both personally and professionally.
“That was a really big, life-changing moment,” she said. “I’ve learned so much about myself.”
“I think there’s sometimes a stigma around it, too, like I was saying,” the singer continued. “Sometimes people are like, ‘Oh, you don’t need that. You have so much. Your life is so great. What are your problems?’ I think that’s definitely a thing that sometimes older people can do to younger people to kind of trivialize what they’re going through.”