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Cuties: Tessa Thompson and more defend film after Netflix’s inappropriately sexualised marketing sparks backlash

Film has been described as a ‘feminist critique of the hypersexualisation of pre-teen girls’

Louis Chilton
Friday 21 August 2020 16:39 BST
Cuties trailer

People have defended the French film Cuties after Netflix was accused of sexualising children in the film’s “inappropriate” US marketing.

The film, entitled Mignonnes in French, was directed by Maïmouna Doucouré, and is itself intended as a criticism of the sexualisation of children.

Netflix issued an apology for the way they marketed the film, after a comparison between Cuties’ French and US posters went viral on social media.

“We’re deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Mignonnes/Cuties,“ the streaming company tweeted on Thursday. “It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which won an award at Sundance.”

Netflix’s promotion of the film was subject to fierce backlash online, but some of the complaints conflated Netflix’s “inappropriate” poster with the film itself.

Doucouré appears to have deleted her Twitter account following the controversy. Screenshots being shared around social media suggest the French-Senegalese filmmaker was subject to abuse and death threats.

In the wake of the backlash, many people stepped into defend Doucouré’s film, and expressed outrage that the wrongful marketing of its content might have impacted a promising filmmaking career.

‘Cuties’ is directed by Maïmouna Doucouré (Netflix)

Avengers: Endgame star Tessa Thompson wrote: “Cuties is a beautiful film. It gutted me at @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.”

She added, “Netflix didn’t make this film, y’all.”

Another commenter wrote: “Mignonnes/Cuties is directed by a Black Muslim French-Senegalese woman. The film is about being caught between traditional culture and hypersexualisation in the dance troupe. A Black feminist critique of hypersexualisation of pre-teen girls. It’s not Islamophobic either.”

Cuties is released on Netflix on 7 September.

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