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Netflix

Controversial French film Cuties has spawned more backlash against streaming giant Netflix, with critics alleging it over-sexualizes children.

The film tells the story of an 11-year-old Senegalese girl in Paris who joins a "free-spirited dance clique" to escape family dysfunction.

Despite the outrage, the movie earned praise when it debuted at January's Sundance Film Festival in Utah for how it addressed the hypersexualization of young girls.

Netflix previously apologized for a promo poster of the child stars posing in their dancing outfits. After the film premiered on Netflix on 9 September, the backlash continued as the hashtag "#CancelNetflix" was the top trending topic on Twitter in the U.S. the following day.

A petition on Change.org was also launched, calling on Netflix customers to cancel their subscriptions over the flick on the streaming service "that exploits children and creates a disturbing vibe".

"From cuties to Big Mouth to other movies mocking religions and exploiting children Netflix is no longer the family friendly streaming service I once believed it to be," reads a message on the campaign, which currently has over 600,000 signatures.

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Barack and Michelle Obama, who signed a multimillion dollar production deal with Netflix, have remained silent amid the controversy.

The backlash prompted Netflix officials to issue a statement, insisting the film, "Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children.

"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," they told Variety of the Maimouna Doucoure-directed flick.

But critics complained about the many close up shots of the young girls' body parts, and one scene where a girl exposed her breasts on camera.