Netflix movie, “Cuties”, receives backlash after a misleading poster


French poster vs U.S. Netflix poster. Photo courtesy of Deadline.

French film “Mignonnes,” or “Cuties” in English, was released on Netflix in early September, creating major controversy.

The movie, directed by Maimouna Doucoure, is about an 11-year-old Muslim girl named Amy, who joins a group of dancers her age called, “The Cuties.” The type of dancing they perform could be presumed as twerking or grinding, while wearing skimpy outfits that show a good amount of skin. In the film, Amy’s mother gets upset because Amy is going against their religion and becoming an embarrassment to the family.

Right away, based off that description, many Americans went ballistic over the movie before it even came out. I was even surprised when I first read about it. Various Twitter users expressed their opinions of the film on social media.

“There is a movie called Cuties on Netflix. I saw the poster of it, and I was pretty much stunned at what Netflix did,” said an online user in a tweet. “Bad enough the movie was made, although I’m sure the person who made the film had a legit reason. Still, Cuties is a movie that should never have existed.”

Most of the bad reputation for the film originally came from the poster Netflix chose to advertise the movie. Netflix chose an image of the young girls wearing small clothing and standing in provocative positions. Whereas in France, when the movie was released, the poster featured the girls walking down a street holding shopping bags and jumping around. Because Netflix made this decision, they were given a lot of hate, to the point where people were threatening to cancel their Netflix subscriptions if the movie was not removed.

Coastal Carolina University Language and Intercultural Studies instructor, Melanie Giraud, expressed her feelings about the poster.

“Well, my main problem with the movie in the U.S. is how Netflix used the image of the movie,” said Giraud in a zoom interview. “Descendants version of the movie, when you see the poster in order to publicize the movie, it’s not the same at all. It’s young girls in the street, they’re not exactly showing that much skin, you know it’s more about them, thinking about dancing, going out etc.”

Giraud is from France. She has lived in the United States for 20 years now. She understands the difference between movies, cultural wise, and how the meanings differ depending on the country’s societal norms.

“In France, we would look at it like an artistic movie, above all, because it was made by someone from immigration, and it’s more like artistic, etc.,” said Giraud.

Aside from the young girls in the film, there is a lot of background information that must be understood to understand what the movie is portraying. The main character, Amy, comes from a Muslim family, where polygamy is accepted. This means that the man can have up to four wives. Once Amy discovers that her father is coming home to get married to another woman, she becomes furious, and that is when she begins to “rebel.”

The incentive behind the film was to portray a girl entering womanhood. This idea was based off the producer’s experience from when she was a child. Doucoure wanted to show how difficult it is for young girls to grow up when living in between two cultures. One of the reasons the main character Amy, wanted to be a part of the dance group, was to get attention from someone. She saw videos of women on social media that danced in a very provocative style, and people went crazy over it. So, in return, she mimicked them. Since people do not understand the reasoning behind the film, they jump straight to conclusions.

Giraud said, “I think that is also why in the United States this movie is so problematic, is that there is a lot of the French background that people don’t have.”

This was not an enjoyable movie for me to watch. In America, we grow up with different societal norms, of which this movie does not portray as acceptable. Although, after doing research, I understand why people would enjoy this film and applaud it. I would not recommend it to anyone unless they understand the artistic viewpoints of foreign films.

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The Chanticleer