‘#CancelNetflix’ Move Short-Lived Says Data Firm

Social media calls to boycott or cancel Netflix over allegations of a sexualized storyline for its French-language original movie about underage girls in a dance troupe was apparently short-lived.

New statistics from 7Park Data claim the furor over the English-dubbed Cuties, about an 11-year-old girl from Senegal living in Paris with her single mom who tries to expedite her transition into adulthood, lasted about seven days, causing an uptick in subscriber cancelations. Separate stats from YipitData suggested Netflix churn skyrocketed more than 800% on Sept. 12. Netflix, per policy, does not report the number of subscribers canceling service, or churn.

Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” Netflix said in a statement earlier this month. “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.”

Indeed, Cuties has ranked among the streamer’s Top 10 most-popular shows, with the film’s writer-director, Maïmouna Doucouré, telling a French media event last week that the movie is a call to educate people on the dangers of oversexualizing children.

“We need to protect our children. What I want … is to open people’s eyes on this issue and try to fix it,” Doucouré said. “We have the same fight.”

With an election year in full swing, Netflix has become a target among some politicians and groups (Parents Television Council, National Center on Sexual Exploitation and the Council on American-Islamic Relations) pushing agendas via red button topics such as child trafficking and U.S.-China-Muslim relations. Not surprisingly, Netflix cancellations from Sept. 10-13 increased most significantly in politically conservatives states such as Alaska, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Nebraska.

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House Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) both called Cuties “child porn,” with Cruz firing off a letter to the Department of Justice asking for an investigation of Netflix executives.

This week five GOP senators sent a separate letter directly to Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos with questions about the streamer’s decision to greenlight an original series based on a story (The Three-Body Problem) by award-winning Chinese science-fiction writer Cixin Liu, whose comments in support of government policies toward ethnic Uyghur Muslims, have drawn criticism.

Texas Senator Calls for DOJ Investigation of Netflix Regarding ‘Cuties’ Movie

Netflix, a longtime target of right-wing boycotts, is now facing new pressure from some lawmakers looking to score political points in an election year.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) on Sept. 11 sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr asking the Department of Justice to investigate Netflix regarding its marketing and distribution of French film Cuties, a fictional story about an 11-year-old girl from Senegal living in Paris who joins a “twerking dance squad,” upsetting her conservative single mom. Cruz wonders whether distribution of the movie violated any federal laws against the alleged production and distribution of child pornography.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.)

“I urge the DOJ to investigate … whether Netflix, its executives, or the individuals involved in the production and distribution of the film violated any federal laws,” Cruz wrote.

Specifically, Cruz alleges the film “routinely fetishizes and sexualizes” pre-adolescent girls performing dance sequences in provocative outfits simulating sexual conduct.

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“These scenes in and of themselves are harmful,” Cruz wrote, suggesting the images could encourage pedophiles globally to imitate “this film in abusive ways.”

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) joined the dispute, calling on the DOJ to take “swift” action.

“Like any parent, I find ⁦@Netflix⁩ decision to peddle child pornography disgusting,” Cotton tweeted Sept. 12. “And it’s criminal.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) is the lone Democrat criticizing the movie’s release, claiming it would “whet the appetite of pedophiles” and help “fuel” child sex trafficking.

“Netflix, you are now complicit,” Gabbard tweeted.

Netflix, which began streaming Cuties on Sept. 9, changed the film’s initial marketing after receiving criticism on social media. The service contends the movie criticizes — not endorses — the sexualization of minor girls in the media.

“Cuties is 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,” Netflix said in a media statement.

The Parents Television Council, a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment, this week said it stands by its earlier criticism that the TV-MA-rated Cuties sexualizes children.

“By removing the offensive poster and replacing it with a more innocuous one, Netflix might actually have made the situation worse by suggesting that Cuties is nothing more than a cute, coming-of-age movie,” Melissa Henson, program director for the Parents Television Council, said in a statement.