Netflix is currently promoting an award-winning film, "Cuties," that's being marketed as "a coming-of-age tale" from the streaming giant.
But people across the world are expressing outrage with concerns that the movie sexualizes young girls, and a petition has been launched in an effort to have it removed from Netflix.
What are the details?
On Tuesday, Netflix announced that "Cuties" would be coming soon to its platform, sharing the French language film's trailer on Twitter. The promotional plug reads: "Amy, 11, becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew. Hoping to join them, she starts to explore her femininity, defying her family's traditions."
Cuties | Official Trailer | Netflix www.youtube.com
The Hollywood News published the full synopsis of the film, which reads:
Eleven-year-old Amy lives with her mom, Mariam, and younger brother, awaiting her father to rejoin the family from Senegal. Amy is fascinated by disobedient neighbor Angelica's free-spirited dance clique, a group that stands in sharp contrast to stoic Mariam's deeply held traditional values. Undeterred by the girls' initial brutal dismissal and eager to escape her family's simmering dysfunction, Amy, through an ignited awareness of her burgeoning femininity, propels the group to enthusiastically embrace an increasingly sensual dance routine, sparking the girls' hope to twerk their way to stardom at a local dance contest.
Even before its major-platform release, the international film has sparked international outrage.
One purported Somalian man's reaction to Netflix's post typified a common response: "SMH... Typical. European & Western films in general forever demonising and portaying African culture/Islamic faith in a negative light. In addition to promoting immorality and promiscuity to young girls! Stop sexualising young girls and let them be kids."
The movie poster released to promote the film sparked further outrage. It shows the 11-year-old lead character kneeling down with her legs spread, and a co-star twerking in the background. All four girls in the picture are wearing dance outfits with crop-tops exposing their midriffs along with bottoms and knee pads similar to a volleyball player's uniform.
A petition was also launched, calling for "Cuties" to be removed from Netflix.
Its plea reads:
This movie/show is disgusting as it sexualizes an ELEVEN year old for the viewing pleasure of pedophiles and also negatively influences our children! There is no need for this kind of content in that age group, especially when sex trafficking and pedophilia are so rampant!
As of this writing, more than 6,700 people had signed the petition.
TheBlaze reached out to Netflix asking for comment regarding the petition and the release of the film, but did not receive a response after several hours.
"Cuties" filmmaker Mainmouna Doucouré told Cineuropa about what inspired her to make the film.
"The day I saw, at a neighbourhood party, a group of young girls aged around 11 years old, going up on stage and dancing in a very sensual way while wearing very revealing clothes," she recalled. "I was rather shocked and I wondered if they were aware of the image of sexual availability that they were projecting."
Doucouré went on to explain that she also wanted to expose the dangers of social media to kids through the film.
"During my research, I saw that all these young girls I'd met were very exposed on social media," she said. "And with new social codes, the ways of presenting yourself change. I saw that some very young girls were followed by 400,000 people on social media and I tried to understand why.
"Today, the sexier and the more objectified a woman is, the more value she has in the eyes of social media," the director continued. "And when you're 11, you don't really understand all these mechanisms, but you tend to mimic, to do the same thing as others in order to get a similar result. I think it is urgent that we talk about it, that a debate be had on the subject."