Nearly 400,000 people have signed a petition to remove the film "Cuties" from Netflix amid backlash over what many say are themes of pedophilia.
The movie, which launched on Netflix on September 9, follows 11-year-old Amy as she joins a dance group called "The Cuties." Many have criticized the dances included in the film for being sexually suggestive.
Netflix defended the movie, adding that it does not plan to pull it.
"'Cuties' is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children," a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement. "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."
A petition calling for the movie to be removed reached nearly 400,000 signatures on Friday.
"Three weeks ago, I made this petition for Netflix to remove 'Cuties,'" the creator of the petition explained. "They ignored the 1-million-plus signs total from all the petitions combined and chose to air the film. It was far worse than imagined. It contains inappropriate sexual material of minors (11-year-olds). The actresses themselves are eleven! I am updating this petition to redirect signatures to the FBI and call for the investigation of the parents, staff, director, and ESPECIALLY Netflix [sic]. They all need to be charged for distribution of inappropriate content involving a minor(s)! "
Federal and state politicians are among those speaking out against the movie.
Social commentator and pro-life activist Lila Rose argued that the movie violates laws about child pornography.
Others have argued that critics are missing the film's message.
"This is very much a film about what happens to kids when their parents aren't physically or emotionally present in their lives," wrote Alyssa Rosenberg, a movie critic for the Washington Post. "It's highly skeptical of social media platforms and what sexualized mainstream culture teaches children about what behavior is normal or desirable. Though its characters post provocative dance videos and wear revealing costumes, ‘Cuties' doesn't present their actions as liberated or admirable: Instead, the movie repeatedly shows other characters reacting with sadness or disgust when these girls try to act like grown women."
The petition to remove the film from Netflix can be found here.