COLUMBUS, Ohio — Concern and controversy continue to swirl around the award-winning French coming-of-age film "Cuties." The backlash was renewed with the film's Sept. 9 release to Netflix. The streaming platform acquired exclusive rights to the film internationally, except in France, earlier this year - prior to its strong showing at the Sundance Film Festival.
Now, several politicians and lawmakers, including Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, are calling for Netflix to remove the film entirely over concern that it sexualizes and exploits children in a dangerous way.
Last month, Netflix issued an apology following its release of promotional artwork and the trailer for the film that was considered inappropriate by many due to the way the characters were depicted. The Netflix description for the film, which is rated "Mature," reads: "Eleven-year-old Amy starts to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew."
Netflix said that the trailer and artwork were an inaccurate representation of "Cuties," but many groups had already begun voicing concern and petitioning for the removal of the film from the streaming service. Combined, the Change.org petitions calling for the removal of "Cuties" have gathered over 1 million signatures.
Political figures are condemning the film through letter writing and speaking out publicly against what they call the sexualization of children portrayed in the film. On Sept. 11, Senator Ted Cruz wrote U.S. Attorney General William Barr, asking the government to pursue whether Netflix had broken federal laws by releasing the film.
His letter was joined on Monday by a letter from four state attorneys general co-signing for the removal of "Cuties," sent directly to the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost was one of the four to sign. The other AGs signing the letter were Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.
“In this era where we are fighting a seemingly never-ending battle against human trafficking, this film is counterproductive – it whets the appetites of those who wish to harm our children in the most unimaginable ways,” Yost said in a statement, released alongside the letter. “I vehemently opposed the continued streaming of the movie and request that it is voluntarily removed.”
The film, which has not been removed, currently carries poor ratings across most review platforms, having been "review bombed," despite high praise from many critics and garnering awards at film festivals.
The letter explains that the film encourages and normalizes the sexual exploitation of children, something that Yost is responsible for prosecuting.
One paragraph reads, in part:
"Repeated images of eleven-year old children gyrating, “twerking,” and simulating sex in tight, skimpy clothes simply serves as fodder for those with criminal imaginations, serving to normalize the view that children are sexual beings. It whets the appetites of those who wish to harm our children in the most unimaginable ways—ways I have had to prosecute."
Netflix has defended the film as depicting the problematic nature of sexualizing children, arguing the intent is to show disapproval of the practice. They have stood by "Cuties" and its director, Maïmouna Doucouré.
The streaming service has yet to comment on the latest letters and statements by the politicians.
The full letter from Attorney General Yost can be read below.