Netflix's co-CEO Ted Sarandos is firing back against a Texas grand jury's bias against Maïmouna Doucouré's film Cuties.
The film has had a bungled debut in the U.S., starting with Netflix's poor and misrepresentative rollout and promotion, leading prospective audiences to believe the film was sexualizing girls. Recently a grand jury in Tyler County, Texas, accused the streaming service of promoting "visual material which depicts the lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 years of age at the time the visual material was created, which appeals to the prurient interest in sex and has no serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."
“Frankly, I'm surprised there hasn't been more discussion about the First Amendment implications of this film," said Sarandos Monday during a MIPCOM Online+ keynote address, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "It's a film I would argue is very misunderstood with some audiences, uniquely in the United States."
“It's the director's story and the film has obviously played very well at Sundance, without any of this kind of controversy and it played in theaters throughout Europe without any of this controversy. I think it's a little surprising that in 2020 in America, we're having a discussion about censoring storytelling."
Doucouré has told Shadow And Act about the personal nature of her film and how it focuses on the hypersexualization of girls in the media and society.
“My first inspiration [for the film] was, during a neighborhood gathering in Paris, I saw a group of very young girls who came and danced on the stage and they were dancing in a very sexual way like we were used to seeing in [social media] video clips," she explained. "And this intrigued me, so I decided to spend the next year and a half during doing research. And I met over a hundred young girls and listened to their stories," she said. "I wanted to know how they, how they were constructing their own femininity in today's society and how they were doing with their self-image at a time when social media is so important. I wanted to listen to their stories and that's how I came up with the idea."
“...All of the stories that you see in the film are based on the stories that [were] told [to] me and I realized that these girls were learning to construct themselves and their version of femininity based on what they saw in social media," she continued. "I realized that these girls were growing up with a vision that was objectifying women and that they were growing up with this idea of a woman being an object and a woman's worth and value being based on the number of likes that they received."
Photo credit: Sundance Institute