The French film, which follows an 11-year-old girl who “joins a group of dancers named ‘The Cuties’ at school and rapidly grows aware of her burgeoning femininity – upsetting her mother and her values in the process,” raised eyebrows after the poster depicted young girls in highly sexualised poses, while the film’s original French artwork featured the more wholesome image of the same girls shopping.
its interesting to compare the french version of the cuties poster to the american version…
like the French version has more "kids having fun!" vibes, while the American version is just fucking…. gross.
I feel like the #Netflix marketing team has a lot to answer for. pic.twitter.com/c8QrX0EY75
— kitti (meow) (@yeetdere) August 20, 2020
“It is so revealing that the first major @netflix original to centre young Black girls hinges on explicitly sexualising 11-year-old children,” Twitter user Claire Heuchan tweeted. “Whether it’s acting or music, a sexualised image is too often the price of mainstream success for Black women & girls. Disgraceful.”
As the backlash grew over the imagery, Netflix released a statement apologising for the “inappropriate” imagery, saying it did not represent the film and that it had been amended.
“We’re deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Mignonnes/Cuties,” the streaming company tweeted on Thursday, referring to the movie both by its original French title and by the English translation.
“It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which won an award at Sundance. We’ve now updated the pictures and description.”
Netflix released a trailer for the French film earlier this week, along with an official synopsis which read: “Eleven-year-old Amy lives with her mum, Mariam, and younger brother, awaiting her father to rejoin the family from Senegal.
“Amy is fascinated by disobedient neighbour Angelica’s free-spirited dance clique, a group that stands in sharp contrast to stoic Mariam’s deeply held traditional values.
“Undeterred by the girls’ initial brutal dismissal and eager to escape her family’s simmering dysfunction, Amy, through an ignited awareness of her burgeoning femininity, propels the group to enthusiastically embrace an increasingly sensual dance routine, sparking the girls’ hope to twerk their way to stardom at a local dance contest.”
In a recent interview with CineEuropa, director Maïmouna Doucouré said: “I saw that some very young girls were followed by 400,000 people on social media and I tried to understand why.
“There were no particular reasons, besides the fact that they had posted sexy or at least revealing pictures: that is what had brought them this ‘fame.’
She continued, “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.”
Cuties was premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival to largely positive reviews.