The controversy over Cuties has only grown worse in the last week or so, after initial protests against Netflix’s promotional poster intensified when the movie was released on the streaming platform. Director Maïmouna Doucouré, who has already revealed the wave of hatred directed at her for the film, has now made a statement regarding the reaction to her work, and has called on critics to actually take the time to watch Cuties and make their own minds up over its stance.
Speaking to Aramide Tinubu, Doucouré emphasizes how the online backlash against the picture has largely missed the point of what she was trying to achieve, and what those who’ve actually seen it have realized.
“I’m eager to see their reaction when they realize that we’re both on the same side of this fight against young children’s hypersexualization.”
In the same interview, Doucouré expressed her frustration over how Netflix chose to market Cuties, in the sense that, by focusing on images without the necessary context, they opened the door to the barrage of right-wing criticism that has since emerged. The company has already apologized for their misstep, including to Doucouré, and she states that she’s now aware of the need to improve communication over how exhibitors handle her material.
“I have learned that I need to take the time to look at each step, even beyond the marketing. In this particular instance, it was difficult, because we had to do things quickly. I didn’t see the poster that Netflix came out with before it premiered. Next time, I will see the poster, and we’ll communicate better.”
That Cuties‘ most vocal attackers have jumped on the bandwagon without watching the production is particularly disappointing. Rather than understand what Doucouré was attempting to do, and what the actual reception from audiences has been, trolls and opportunistic politicians have used Cuties to stir up hysteria.
Indeed, moral panics over perceived child abuse have become a worrying trend through social media, and can quickly get out of hand, as Pizzagate and other conspiracy theories have shown. We’d encourage anyone who’s been following the Cuties issue to view it on Netflix and come to their own conclusions, rather than just make an angry comment. Doing so is important for both engaging with the actual issues it presents, and for encouraging debate rather than mindless raging.