Over the past few years, Netflix has become quite the force in the film world, in addition to their myriad television shows. In addition to original content, the streaming service has also gained distribution rights to already produced projects. This includes foreign films like Maïmouna Doucouré's Cuties, which has been the heart of some controversy for its depiction of young women. And now Netflix head honcho Ted Sarandos has directly addressed the ongoing situation.
Cuties is a French film (originally titled Mignonnes) which focuses on young women who are trying to grow up too fast. While the film itself criticizes over-sexualization of girls, Netflix's poster for the project received backlash for doing just that. Since then the conversation has been ongoing, including a recent lawsuit in Texas. Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos has now addressed this controversy, saying:
"It’s a little surprising in 2020 America that we’re having a discussion about censoring storytelling. It’s a film that is very misunderstood with some audiences, uniquely within the United States. The film speaks for itself. It’s a very personal coming of age film, it’s the director’s story and the film has obviously played very well at Sundance without any of this controversy and played in theaters throughout Europe without any of this controversy."
Well, that was honest. It looks like Ted Sarandos and Netflix is siding with filmmaker Maïmouna Doucouré's vision for Cuties. He believes her headline-making movie is misunderstood, and that the material stands for itself. What's more, Sarandos diagnosed the controversy as specifically an American issue, given its acclaim overseas.
Ted Sarandos' comments come from the virtual Mipcom market (via Deadline), where he explicitly addressed the ongoing conversation around Cuties on Netflix. Prior to the movie's arrival on the streaming service, a poster featuring the young cast in the middle of the final dance recital was released. The image was immediately met with backlash, and the conversation around the French coming of age drama hasn't slowed since.
While there were some reports of Netflix users cancelling their subscriptions in protest, Cuties became an extremely popular title on the streaming service. And while the movie's controversial poster for the U.S. release was criticized for over-sexualizing the young cast, that's exactly what Maïmouna Doucouré's movie is about. And the scene in question doesn't exactly go well for the young girls who are dancing so raunchy in public.
This is at least part of what Ted Sarandos is saying in his defense of Cuties. So much of the controversy (and lawsuit) are based on its poster, rather than the contents of the film itself. And in addition to the controversy being a regional issue, Sarandos seems to take umbrage with the subject of censoring being so prevalent. Only time will tell how the ongoing conversation continues.
Cuties is currently streaming on Netflix, so you can judge for yourself.