Originally Published at USA Today
By Sara M Moniuszko
A day after the film debuted on the streaming service, the hashtags #CancelNetflix and #BoycottNetflix were trending on social media.
Netflix responded to the criticism in a statement provided to USA TODAY on Friday: “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.”
The National Center on Sexual Exploitation also condemned Netflix for giving a film “that has permitted the sexual exploitation of children” a platform.
“While we commend Director Maïmouna Doucouré for exposing the very real threats to young girls having unfettered access to social media and the internet, we cannot condone the hypersexualization and exploitation of the young actresses themselves in order to make her point,” the nonprofit said in a statement Friday.
The center said Netflix is engaging in “corporate malfeasance” and asked the platform to cut “sexually-exploitative scenes” from the film or drop it entirely.
“The audience does not need to see the very long scenes with close-up shots of the girls’ bodies; this does nothing to educate the audience on the harms of sexualization,” the statement adds.
The statement comes as a “Cancel Netflix subscription” petition on Change.org amassed more than 600,000 signatures as of Friday morning.