According to a new report from The Verge, Netflix attempted to minimize the backlash it received from the promotion of the French film Cuties by suppressing it from search results. Directed by Maïmouna Doucouré, the coming-of-age film follows Amy, a twelve-year-old Senegalese-French girl who joins an all-girls dance group and is a commentary on the influence social media has on the hypersexualization of young girls. However, when promoting the film on August 18, 2020, Netflix used their own promotional material that featured the young actors in short-shorts and crop tops and a misleading synopsis, material that Doucouré did not approve. Soon after the material went live, Netflix received backlash for the promotion of Cuties and, on August 19, changed the poster and synopsis on its platform. The Verge revealed that the controversy was causing customers to cancel their subscriptions, which resulted in Netflix actively trying to “minimize press coverage” related to the film. The streamer allegedly removed the movie from popular film categories and manually altered search results related to Cuties. Although it was not a Netflix original, Netflix reportedly took the concerns for the film seriously.
In contrast, the controversies surrounding Dave Chappelle’s The Closer garnered national attention, with Netflix employees and LGBTQ+ activists protesting how the streamer handled all of the backlash for the special’s transphobic comments. However, the special has not presented an issue for Netflix, as the streamer reported subscriber growth of 4.4 million. Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos addressed the backlash in several memos to staff, apologetic for his “lack of humanity” in his response, but ultimately stood by the comedy special.