Odds are, unless you’re an avid film fan that pays attention to international cinema and early film festivals such as Sundance (basically, people who regularly read this website), you didn’t really know much about “Cuties” before the controversial release of the film last month. The French film about a young girl and her dance troupe ignited a social media firestorm before it was released thanks to Netflix’s poor marketing decisions and a rise in right-wing-based conspiracy theories about pedophiles in Hollywood. Needless to say, “Cuties” turned into a hot button issue that was heavily debated by a ton of people that didn’t even watch the movie. And now, Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos (yes, just like in “The Office”) is firing back.
Speaking at the Mipcom virtual market (via Deadline), Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos spoke about the issues surrounding “Cuties” and claimed that the controversy “appeals to the prurient interest in sex, and has no serious, literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.”
He added, “It’s a little surprising in 2020 America that we’re having a discussion about censoring storytelling.”
As mentioned, the controversy surrounding “Cuties” started when Netflix released a poster for the film, focusing on the pre-teen stars of the film in tight-fitting dance clothes posing in ways that could be deemed sexually suggestive. This was in stark contrast to the way the film was marketed in France, where the focus was on the coming-of-age aspects of the film. This led many to dub the film pornographic and ask for a completely Netflix boycott.
Ultimately, the film was released and people immediately noticed that the discussion was largely overblown and without merit. However, given social media has never been a place where calm, rational discussion can take place, the film still carries negative connotations, especially with certain sides of the Internet (namely, the same places where Qanon theories are shared regularly).
That being said, while the boycott of Netflix seems to have had little effect on the overall bottom line, it’ll be interesting to see if the streaming company thinks twice before sensationalizing films in the marketing. Or maybe, as the defiant statements seem to indicate, the company isn’t concerned by a little social media controversy.