from the too-cute-by-half dept
Cuties, the stupid non-controversy against Netflix that simply will not go away. The film, which won awards at international film festivals, centers on a pre-teen and is a coming of age story about a young lady growing up in both a strictly conservative upbringing combined with living in the hyper-sexualized Western culture. While the whole story is about this juxtaposition, Netflix rather stupidly promoted the film using images that focused on the latter. The result was chaos, with large swaths of Puritan-Twitter screaming about boycotting Netflix entirely and one pandering prosecutor in Texas bringing an indictment against Netflix for promotion of lewd visual material depicting a child.
With everyone very quickly lighting themselves on fire over an award winning film, Netflix sat back and calmly explained what the film was about and why it had… just kidding, Netflix is now out here issuing DMCA takedowns for those tweeting critiques of its decision to distribute the film.
Netflix’s takedown requests, which are still rolling in today, seem only to have targeted tweets that described the film negatively, although some more than others.
“IMAGINE A CHILD SEEING THIS #Cuties #Netflix #CancelNetflixCuties,” one message read. “WARNING CONTAINS EXPLICIT CONTENT,” another similar message said. “Go ahead and try to justify how this film is an appropriate representation of 11 year olds. I’ll wait. #CancelNetfilx.”
Some of the dozens of tweets Netflix issued DMCA claims against used clips from the actual movie, TorrentFreak reports, in which case Netflix’s claims are understandable. However, many of the tweets in question shared the film’s trailer, which is widely and publicly available on YouTube for anyone to view or share.
DMCA takedowns of trailers, as we’ve explained before, never make sense. Ever. Ever ever. What Netflix is doing instead is lay bare its intentions behind these takedown notices, which are obviously centered on attempting to censor critical commentary around its decisions surrounding the film. This becomes especially apparent when put in the context for how and for what Netflix has, in the past, bothered issuing DMCA takedowns.
TorrentFreak notes that the cluster of claims is unusual for Netflix, which has sent roughly 300 DMCA claims to Twitter in the past month, half of which centered on tweets related to Cuties. Before Netflix started targeting Cuties tweets, most of the claims it sent were related to accounts known for distributing pirated content.
And so the Streisand Effect kicks in. By trying to bury criticism, the public becomes all the more aware of that criticism. By trying to censor a controversy that was probably juuuuuuust about to go away, instead it gets recycled back into the news cycle.
Netflix, tech company as it is, should absolutely know better. Reliant on the First Amendment as it is, it should absolutely not be taking actions like this that tamp down speech. And given that Netflix is not entirely without blame for the controversy in the first place, it sure would be nice if the company demonstrated skin thick enough to take a little heat now and again.