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'It's a step back' | Local advocates criticize controversial 'Cuties' film for sexualizing children

Netflix had previously apologized for the photos used in promotion, and said Maimouna Doucoure's film is a "commentary against the sexualization of young children."

SAN ANTONIO — Of the millions of movies you can watch right now, there's only one thousands of people are asking everyone to avoid.

"I'm just in shock," Jasmine McGill a known advocate fighting child abuse said. "It's a step back for every single person that is out there fighting child abuse, child exploitation and human trafficking."

The French film Cuties follows an 11-year-old girl who joins a dance crew. Many accuse the film of sexualizing pre-adolescent girls.

Netflix has stood by its decision to keep the movie available but for local child abuse case consultant Carrie Wilcoxson, she still won't watch it.

"I did see the marketing that was used to promote the film and that is of a little girl that is pumping the floor and grinding the floor right and so why is it marketed like that?" Wilcoxson asked. "We're not just sexualizing our children but we are normalizing the idea of sex with children." 

But that was the exact issue the filmmaker, Maimouna Doucoure, said she wanted to address. She spoke with NPR last week about the message she wanted to get across.

"We have the same fight and we are all together about that issue of hyper-sexualization of our children and protect our children," she said.

But for many advocates, the movie missed its mark.

"Then why did they choose to market it using sexualization of a child?" Wilcoxson asked again after reading up on Doucoure's remarks.

"A movie like this comes out and sets us back," McGill said.

All these advocates can hope is that people use the 96 minutes they would have taken to watch the film, to do something else.

"We have tools and resources here in our city that can help you learn about these things without actually exploiting children in the process," McGill added.

Netflix had previously apologized for the photos used in promoting the movie but in a recent statement to Variety magazine, they defended the film.

An excerpt from the Variety magazine article reads: 

“‘Cuties’ is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to Variety. “It’s an award-winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up — and we’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie.” 

RELATED: 'Disturbing': Sen. Ted Cruz calls for federal investigation of Netflix controversial 'Cuties' film