A massive backlash has forced Netflix to apologise for the marketing of an award-winning French coming-of-age film.
Cuties, directed by Maïmouna Doucouré, won a directing award at Sundance this year and tells the story of an 11-year-old Muslim girl who defies her family to join a dance troupe.
The initial marketing of the film by Netflix in the US caused widespread outrage after the photos and taglines they used led to accusations that they were sexualising young girls.
The film, which will be available on Netflix in NZ on September 9, tells the story of Senegalese Muslim girl Amy who joins a dance troupe called The Cutie and explores how internet culture sexualises young girls and the clash between the online world and her family's traditional values.
In marketing the film however, Netlix initially chose to use this tagline on Twitter: "Amy, 11, becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew. Hoping to join them, she starts to explore her femininity, defying her family's traditions."
They also eschewed the image of the girls laughing and carrying shopping bags that was used for the original French poster and instead used a photograph of girls posing wearing full makeup and skimpy clothing.
This approach led to a swift backlash online, with Netflix being widely criticised and multiple Change.org petitions launched aiming to have Cuties banned.
"It's interesting to compare the French version of the cuties poster to the American version," wrote one critic on Twitter.
"Like the French version has more 'kids having fun!' vibes, while the American version is just f***ing… gross. I feel like the #Netflix marketing team has a lot to answer for."
Another said they had "no faith that this film was made with the intent of anything other than pure perversion".
Some defended the film, arguing that the marketing had done the movie a disservice.
"So I have seen a lot of posts about the movie 'Cuties' ('Mignonnes' in French) that is showing on Netflix. I agree that the way Netflix presents the movie is quite nasty," one person argued.
"I think that this deserves some criticism. However, I disagree with some of the outrage. It is not a movie made to cater to paedophiles but a well researched movie about girls growing up while navigating hyper-sexualised social media culture as well as the various influences from French and immigrant cultures."
The streaming giant eventually responded to the outcry and announced it was changing the film's promotion and apologising for its original direction.
"We're deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Mignonnes/Cuties. It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which won an award at Sundance. We've now updated the pictures and description," Netflix tweeted.
The tagline for the film now reads: "11-year-old Amy starts to rebel against her conservative family's traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew."