The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, Sept. 15 called on Netflix to remove the French film Cuties from its platform due to what it claims is the “disturbing sexualization” of children as well as its offensive and stereotypical depiction of Islam and Muslims.
The movie, about an 11-year-old girl from Senegal who joins a dance troupe to escape an overbearing mother, has generated a firestorm of controversy for Netflix regarding the film’s initial marketing and content that critics say overtly sexualizes underage girls.
CAIR now says the movie also demeans the Islamic religion. Specifically, the group says the film depicts the girl’s father as a polygamist, her mother as oppressed, and features a scene in which her family conducts an exorcism, leading the young girl to gyrate and “twerk” while wearing revealing clothing, all as an Arabic recitation plays in the background.
“We join other Americans in calling on Netflix to remove this disturbing film from its platform,” Nihad Awad, national executive director of CAIR, said in a statement. “Although the filmmakers behind Cuties have argued that the film is meant to criticize the hyper-sexualization of children, a film cannot criticize the abuse of children while abusing children.”
The group says the film makes matters worse with its depictions of Islam and Muslims that range from the stereotypical to the offensive, including a scene in which a barely-clothed Muslim preteen gyrates during a forced exorcism.
“None of this should be acceptable in American society, especially the sexual objectification of children,” Awad said. “Netflix should immediately remove the film and apologize to the public.”
Netflix and filmmaker Maimouna Doucouré, who claims she has received death threats, say the film is a critical look on pressure society puts on young girls to act sexual.
“Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” Netflix said in a statement. “We’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie.”
The service wasn’t immediately available for comment regarding CAIR’s concerns.