Over the past 48 hours Netflix has become embroiled in a large scandal angering tens of thousands around the world over a trailer for its upcoming release of Cuties, a film involving scantily-clad 11-year-old girls “twerking” as part of a dance troupe they join as they come of age.
The film, Cuties, is set in France and explores the challenges faced by a group of young and diverse girls in their quest for authenticity and belonging when their inherited cultures, faith, and traditions clash with secular liberal French society.
The hyper-sexualized overtones of the movie’s trailer and original synopsis failed to intimate a deeper storyline other than faux-empowerment.
As a result, a backlash ensued, given the film’s “mature” rating although the main protagonists were preteen girls, and Netflix was forced to issue a weak apology after their trailer on YouTube was hammered by angry social media users.
“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.
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 (@netflix) August 20, 2020
However, a stunning revelation came as Netflix attempted to shift the onus of the backlash onto the Sundance Festival by singing the praises the award ceremony had rained on the controversial film: one of the Festival’s is a convicted child molester, currently serving jail time in his seventies.
Sterling Van Wagenen, who co-founded the Sundance Festival with Robert Redford, was sentenced to a minimum of six years in prison after being found guilty of child molestation in June last year.
Van Wagenen was found to have molested the young girl, who has remained anonymous, on two occasions between 2013 and 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The sentencing judge has recommended Van Wagenen to serve at least the minimum sentence before he can be considered for release.
“It’s clear that any kind of apology I can make is meaningless at this point,” Van Wagenen said, per Reel 360. “So I am not even going to attempt one. I want you all to know I feel the consequences of what I’ve done. I feel them deeply.”
The child molestation charge had internet sleuths outraged shortly after Netflix’s pallid apology–especially coming at a time where several sexual abuse scandals have emerged from Hollywood and are rumored to occur at the highest echelons of the elites.