Did a Netflix Film Poster Sexualize Young Girls?

"Cuties," an award-winning French film about a group of young dancers, gained attention for all the wrong reasons in 2020.

  • Published 21 August 2020

Claim

In August 2020, Netflix released a film poster that portrayed young girls in what many viewers perceived as a sexualized manner.

Origin

A French-language film, scheduled for release on Netflix on Sept. 9, 2020, became the subject of controversy thanks to a major marketing mess-up. “Cuties” — also known as “Mignonnes” in French — was a movie about an 11-year-old girl who joins a dance group. A poster for the film shared by Netflix in August 2020 showed the girls in the dance group wearing short shorts and crop tops and engaging in various provocative poses. (The offending poster can be viewed here.)

We learned that Netflix did indeed commission this poster. Its release was followed by outrage, with many arguing that it was inappropriate and sexualized young girls.

The version commissioned by Netflix was vastly different from the poster used for the French theatrical release in April:

Netflix tweeted an apology on Aug. 20 that stated that:

We’re deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Cuties. It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which premiered at Sundance. We’ve now updated the pictures and description.

The film, which won the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020, tells the story of a Senegalese Muslim girl named Amy living in Paris. According to some reports, Netflix’s original description of the film indicated that Amy “becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew.” The description of the film on the company’s website now reads: “11-year-old Amy starts to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew.”

Based on the outcry and Netflix’s subsequent apology, we rate this claim as “True.”