US cancellations over the September 12th weekend have skyrocketed compared to the same period in August 2020, according to analytics research firm YipitData. The sudden uptick in Netflix cancellations coincided with the release of Cuties on September 9th and related social media campaigns to boycott the streaming platform. Though YipitData didn’t provide exact numbers on how many subscribers actually dropped their Netflix accounts, the research company did note that cancellations increased nearly eight times over average data.
Directed by Maïmouna Doucouré, Cuties is a coming-of-age story centered on an 11-year-old Muslim Senegalese migrant named Amy who lives in Paris. She joins an informal hip-hop dance troupe with her friends, and they perform together on social media. The premise of twerking teens has received criticism, but things were further compounded by Netflix’s promotional campaign for the film.
For the English release of Cuties, Netflix created new promo art that many felt was inappropriately sexualized. In the press photo, the young girls are wearing dance costumes and posing suggestively. Its tone was starkly different compared to the original French promo image (seen above) that features the girls enjoying a day of shopping along a cobblestone street. Netflix apologized for the English photo on August 20th, and has defended the movie against charges of pedophilia.
“Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” commented a Netflix spokesperson. “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.”
In addition to #CancelNetflix campaigns on Twitter, a Change.org boycott petition has been launched with over 625,000 signatures to date. Texas Senator Ted Cruz has also inserted himself into the conversation, recently calling on the Department of Justice and Attorney General William Barr to investigate the film.