Thor: Ragnarok and Men In Black: International actress Tessa Thompson has taken to Twitter to defend Netflix’s upcoming release Cuties after the film’s marketing sparked widespread backlash.
Originally titled Mignonnes, the French film is said to follow a young Sengalese Muslim girl who joins a youth ‘twerking’ crew in Paris and finds herself torn between her traditional religious culture and the hyper-sexualized culture of the West.
Mignonnes premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, where it earned director Maimouna Doucouré the event’s Directing Award, and was soon after optioned for international distribution by Netflix.
Netflix recently ignited a firestorm of anger around Cuties after the streaming service released promotional material for the film, including a poster that featured the pre-teen kids in suggestive outfits and poses.
They also released a description of the film that read “Amy, 11, becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew. Hoping to join them, she starts to explore her feminity, defying her family’s traditions.”
YouTuber Lady Gravemaster described the promotion of the film as “absolutely filth, disgusting, trash. I can’t even believe it is real.”
Shea added, “This disgusting, degenerate trash is about 11 year-old girls twerking.”
Among the Cuties’ defenders was Thompson, who praised the race and gender of the film’s director and argued that the film was being misinterpreted by the public.
In a tweet, Thompson stated “”#CUTIES is a beautiful film. It gutted me at the @sundancefest. It introduces a fresh voice at the helm. She’s a French Senegalese Black Woman mining her experiences. The film comments on the hyper-sexualization of preadolescent girls. Disappointed to see the current discourse.”
Thompson’s tweet soon sparked its own discourse, as some users defended the actress’ views on the film while others flamed her for it.
One user, @starksazula, simply asked the actress, “tessa ily but what.” To which Thompson replied, “Have you seen the film?”:
Another user, @XJames915, found the marketing so appalling that he refused to see the film, saying “I am not even going to look at that film based solely on the advertisement. This is disgusting. There might be a great story but the mere fact that they dresses and posses those young actresses like that is indefensible.”
User @antjohncn, told the actress “tessa this is the worst take i’ve ever seen what the f**k.”
@LaughingGravy76 pointed out the paradox of how “The movie “comments” on the sexualization of minors, while also sexualizing minors…”
Jeremy Hambly from The Quartering simply said “Ok Pedo.”
Others came to the defense of both the film and Thompson, such as user @brieaugust, who said, “The fact that people who didn’t even see the movie are arguing with her. Far too many people have worms for brains. If the trailer/marketing turned you away from the movie that’s valid. But if you haven’t seen it you can’t tell someone who’s seen it what it’s about.”
Another user, @Bree_Spencer, argued that the outraged were “jumping to conspiracies and mob mentality, without actually doing any research or watching the content itself.”
@Kadooodles compared the film to the controversial novel Lolita and it’s treatment in the United States and Europe, asserting “I think this more as a situation similar to how the book Lolita was handled in the states. On the European book covers the man was CLEARLY depicted as a predator. But in the American book cover they paint the girl as the one who’s “seducing” the man. Netflix basically did that.”
Ultimately, the backlash towards Netflix’s promotional poster prompted the streaming giant to issue an apology “for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Migonnes/Cuties,” and admitted “It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which won an award at Sundance. We’ve updated the pictures and description.”
The description now states that Amy “starts to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew.”
YouTuber HeelvsBabyface pointed out that a co-founder of Sundance was sentenced for child sex abuse back in 2019 and stated “it all makes sense now!!!”
The firestorm is still burning, as seen by the over 195,000 signatures currently signed to a Change.org petition that demands Netflix remove the movie from their library, though it is worth noting the film is not yet available on the service.
What do you think of Thompson’s defense of the movie? Does she make a fair point? Or is this more evidence of problems within the industry? Let me know your thoughts!