Netflix cancellations skyrocket over 'Cuties' controversy: report

Characters from the controversial film, 'Cuties.'
Characters from the controversial film, "Cuties." | Netflix

Netflix has experienced a spike in cancellations that's about eight times the normal rate, due to outrage over the controversial film “Cuties,” according to a report by a data analytics group.

Netflix has garnered criticism for its decision to stream the French film “Cuties,” which features sexualized 11-year-old girls dancing provocatively and has been compared to child porn. 

Variety magazine reported on how YipitData found that by Sept. 12, the cancellation rate for Netflix was eight times higher than the average daily levels recorded last month.

While noting that the spike in cancellations was “a multiyear high,” Variety cautioned that this might be a “short-term blip” for a service that regularly has people cancel and sign up.

As of June, Netflix had approximately 193 million paid customers globally, according to Variety, with nearly 26 million new subscribers in the first half of the year.

Written and directed by Maïmouna Doucouré, the film centers on an 11-year-old Senegalese Muslim girl who defies her family and joins an all-girl pre-teen dance team where she twerks, grinds, and simulates sex in dance routines. 

Recently, Republican lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, called on the Department of Justice to investigate Netflix for allegedly distributing child porn. 

"I urge the Department of Justice to investigate the production and distribution of this film to determine whether Netflix, its executives, or the individuals involved in the filming and production of 'Cuties' violated any federal laws against the production and distribution of child pornography," wrote Cruz in a letter to Attorney General William Barr. 

" And it is likely that the filming of this movie created even more explicit and abusive
scenes, and that pedophiles across the world in the future will manipulate and imitate this film in abusive ways."

Netflix first garnered outrage over the film for its promotional artwork that showed the young girls, including the main character, in scantily clad outfits and posing suggestively.

While Netflix eventually apologized for the artwork and changed its promotional advertising for the film, many still called for users to cancel their accounts with the streaming service for carrying the film, which was far worse than the artwork Netflix created. 

In advance of the release of the film on Sept. 9, a petition calling for Netflix to drop “Cuties” was posted online and as of Thursday, has more than 715,000 signatures.

The Twitter hashtag “#CancelNetflix” went viral and was promoted by notable figures, including Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.

“[Netflix’s] child porn ‘Cuties’ will certainly whet the appetite of pedophiles & help fuel the child sex trafficking trade. 1 in 4 victims of trafficking are children. It happened to my friend's 13 year old daughter. Netflix, you are now complicit. #CancelNetflix,” tweeted Gabbard.

Others, including both Netflix and Doucouré, have defended the film as an effort to spread awareness about the dangers of sexualizing children rather than glorifying the practice.

“Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” a Netflix spokesperson told The Daily Caller.

“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.”

Doucouré told Medium that they "auditioned 700 girls" for the film. Questions have since been raised about the audition tapes and what the filmmakers asked each girl to do during the audition. 

Follow Michael Gryboski on Twitter or Facebook

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