When Maïmouna Doucouré won the World Cinema Dramatic Directing award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival for her movie Mignonnes, the possibility of an American streaming platform perverting the pic’s commentary on societal pressures that steer young women and girls towards sexual objectification was probably the last thing on her mind. But the recent backlash against Netflix asserts that the company has done just that, as the service has come under fire for using the bodies of the film’s pre-teen stars for a sex sells campaign to promote its North American September release of the movie, now dubbed Cuties.
But the blowback has not been limited to Netflix alone, as Tessa Thompson—best known for her starring roles in the MCU and Creed series—recently took to Twitter to defend Doucouré and her film in a move that proved controversial among her nearly six hundred thousand followers.
Here’s what she had to say:
“#CUTIES is a beautiful film. It gutted me at the @sundancefest. It introduces a fresh voice at the helm. She’s a French Senegalese Black Woman mining her experiences. The film comments on the hyper-sexualization of preadolescent girls. Disappointed to see the current discourse.”
Of course, it didn’t take long for the backlash to pour in and below, you can see just a sample of what folks are saying:
tessa this is the worst take i’ve ever seen what the fuck
— danielle (@agntjohnscn) August 20, 2020
i think netflix is still sexualizing these children in there marketing, regardless of the actual content of the film, and that’s objectively wrong.
— allison🧃1312 (@gotosleepidiott) August 20, 2020
tessa ily but what
— priya ʚĭɞ (@CTRLDAZE) August 20, 2020
@TessaThompson_x so youre saying that the islamaphobic scenes and comments in the trailer arent in the movie? we’re obv mad because of how awful the trailer is
— reeda (@SAPPHICTAHANl) August 20, 2020
All respect I had for you just went out the window. The co founder of sundance was jailed for child sex crimes and they had to apparently interview over 600 young 11 year old girls for the part, it's a disgusting to be putting on any TV, it's things like this that encourage pedos
— Loki (@LokiElis) August 22, 2020
Have you seen the film?
— Tessa Thompson (@TessaThompson_x) August 20, 2020
As disappointing as that discourse may be, even Netflix has admitted that their marketing grossly misinterpreted the movie in an apology also posted to Twitter last week. The platform has since updated its promotional images and description for Cuties as well.
Despite Netflix and Thompson’s combined efforts, however, it seems as though Doucouré’s award-winning coming of age story may never escape the perverted stigma of the platform’s original marketing campaign among North American audiences. For instance, an online petition to ban the film from distribution already has well over three hundred thousand signatures, despite launching around the same time as Netflix’s apologetic change of tactics.
The online demand for the movie’s removal seems to be falling on deaf ears so far, however, as Cuties is still set to meet its September 9th release date.