Netflix has defended Maïmouna Doucouré’s film Cuties as “social commentary” against the sexualisation of young children.
The movie, which came under attack following a misleading marketing campaign, is still being targeted by social media users online claiming the film sexualises young girls.
Over 300,000 people signed a petition demanding the film be removed, claiming that Cuties sexualised “an 11-year-old for the viewing pleasure of paedophiles”, with Doucouré since receiving death threats.
In a statement to Variety, a Netflix spokesperson said: “Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children.
“It’s an award-winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up — and we’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie.”
Doucouré went on to explain in Why I Made Cuties, a six-minute featurette accompanying the film on Netflix, that she met hundreds of young girls to accurately portray their understanding of femininity.
“I put my heart into this film because this is my story,” the filmmaker said. “Our girls see that the more a woman is sexualised on social media, the more she’s successful.
“And yeah, it’s dangerous.”
In a four-star review, NME called Cuties “a powerful exploration of the way young girls are subconsciously encouraged to perform for the male gaze”.
The review went on: “This is a vivid and very alarming portrait of a young girl struggling to live up to two competing forms of deeply ingrained patriarchy.”