Someone in Netflix’s marketing department is likely packing up their desk and being escorted from the building by security today after the company was forced to make a humiliating apology for a disgusting new poster. The controversy centers around the new film Cuties by French-Senegalese director Maïmouna Doucouré, which draws on her experience of growing up black in France to explore the ways that society sexualizes young children.
Cuties has already screened at festivals and won several awards, with Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Endgame star Tessa Thompson saying that she loved it at Sundance and that Doucouré is a fresh voice in cinema. The Hollywood Reporter, meanwhile, wrote that:
“[Cuties] establishes its critical view of a culture that steers impressionable young girls toward the hypersexualization of their bodies.”
Borne on the back of this praise, Netflix acquired the movie and promptly marketed it as:
“Amy, 11, becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew. Hoping to join them, she starts to explore her femininity, defying her family’s traditions.”
They accompanied it with a poster that showed prepubescent girls in revealing outfits in a variety of sexualized poses under strip club lighting. I’m not going to share it here because, honestly, it’s pretty disgusting. But a quick search online will reveal it if you’re interested.
Of course, people were stunned. A petition immediately went up calling for it to be removed, saying that “this movie/show is disgusting as it sexualizes an ELEVEN year old for the viewing pleasure of pedophiles and also negatively influences our children!” It quickly gained more than 100,000 signatures. Then, in what has to be a first, 4chan announced that anyone publishing the poster would receive a permanent ban as “Netflix may allow this crap, 4chan does not.”
Netflix quickly responded by taking the poster and description down and putting out an apology, saying:
“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. We’ve now updated the pictures and description.”
But the damage is done and Netflix has now probably inflicted irreparable harm to a filmmaker’s reputation. Let’s hope that whoever designed and signed off on this awful poster suffers similar consequences.
Cuties premieres on Netflix on September 6th.