There are fresh calls to cancel Netflix after the release of a film many have accused of being an incognito child porn film targeting paedophiles.
Whether people are calling for Netflix to receive a wider cultural “cancelling” or for people to simply stop their subscriptions is a little unclear, though the latter is a lot easier to pull off and many have been posting on social media to say that they have.
The hashtag #CancelNetflix was trending on Friday morning.
The backlash is in response to the French film Cuties, which released on the platform on Wednesday.
The film focuses on a young Senegalese girl who joins a French hip-hop dance troupe.
It’s supposed to be a coming-of-age dramedy, based loosely on the experiences of writer and director Maïmouna Doucouré, who makes her directorial debut.
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The film premiered at Sundance film festival where it was then acquired by Netflix earlier this year.
One of the themes of the film is the hypersexualisation of girls, and Ms Doucouré said she was inspired by a talent show she witnessed in her old Parisian neighbourhood.
“They danced in a very sexually suggestive manner … I was transfixed, watching with a mixture of shock and admiration.
“I asked myself if these young girls understood what they were doing.”
The use of social media and its impacts on young people’s self-perception is another theme of the film.
While Ms Doucouré’s film apparently aims to shine a light on the challenges facing young girls growing up in an ultra-connected, image-obsessed world, some people are furious with the way she’s depicted it, and how Netflix has promoted it.
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Some also made the point that even if the movie is critical of the hypersexualisation it depicts, the actual production of the film would still involve large numbers of young girls acting out sexualised behaviour, including those who auditioned but did not get cast.
They’ve also pointed out the film is intended for an adult audience and has an adult rating.
After the initial backlash to the promotional poster (since changed), actor Tessa Thompson (not in the film) defended it as a “beautiful film” with a “fresh voice at the helm”.
Ms Doucouré reported she’d received death threats after Netflix released the promotional poster, which she said she was not consulted on and which the co-CEO of the streaming video platform reportedly called her to apologise for.
“I received numerous attacks on my character from people who had not seen the film, who thought I was actually making a film that was apologetic about hypersexualisation of children,” Ms Doucouré told Deadline.
There also appears to be a political undercurrent to the cancellation campaign, blurring whether the outrage is over the actual film or just good old fashioned culture warring.
A viral clip showing a sexualised dance scene went viral after being posted by a reporter at right-wing news site the Daily Caller.
The New Yorker made a similar argument that some critics, which it theorised probably haven’t seen the movie, are missing the point.
The New York Times also reported the backlash being pushed among followers of the pro-Trump QAnon conspiracy, who believe (among many other things) that the US President is going to save the world from a cabal of elite Satan-worshipping paedophiles.
A number of people, including multiple black Republican candidates contesting the 2020 US election, have also used the controversy to attack former President Barack Obama and wife Michelle, whose entertainment production company have a deal with Netflix (they had nothing to do with the making of Cuties).
Another politician, Texas state representative Matt Shaefer, said he’d asked the attorney general to investigate Netflix.
Others have argued the issue is too important to be turned into a partisan political debate (though one of them mistakenly thought the movie was a documentary).