After posting a shirtless movie still of Charles Melton on Instagram, Netflix is receiving backlash on social media for sexualizing Melton’s character, a victim of childhood sexual abuse, in the post.
Yesterday, Netflix’s main Instagram account posted a photo of Melton in May December that shows the actor shirtless. The photo was captioned “*stares in awe*”. In May December, Melton plays Joe, a man who was a victim of childhood sexual abuse and was groomed by his friend’s mother. In the movie, viewers see Joe, who is now married to the woman, grapple with the childhood sexual abuse he experienced.
Netflix has since deleted the Instagram post after controversy erupted, with many users on X calling the streaming platform out.
“Netflix marketing just straight up sexualizing Charles Melton,” @docnoirii posted on X.
“Netflix marketing sexualizing the guy in the scene where he’s feeling the enormous weight of years of sexualization and coercion by manipulative people,” @caitiedelaney posted on X, “is certainly a choice.”
Others posted more impassioned statements denouncing Netflix’s mishandling of the subject matter of the movie on its Instagram account.
“Netflix really was the absolute worst possible distributor to pick up May December,” @Paul_Shrupert tweeted.
“Count your f***ing days @Netflix,” @ozdustgirl tweeted.
As brands have become personified on social media, many are using modern slang and participating in online trends as a way to better connect with consumers. But, like Netflix’s flub, when brands make light of serious topics via marketing, consumers feel alienated.
Earlier this month, Paramount tweeted “you know he had to do it to ’em” in response to a picture of Robert De Niro’s character in Killers of the Flower Moon wearing goggles, posted on X. In the movie, De Niro’s character is responsible for the murder of members of the the Osage Nation, a Native American tribe that now mainly resides in Oklahoma.
“Starting to wonder if maybe they’re doing it on purpose as rage bait,” @docnoirii tweeted about Paramount and Netflix’s actions. “Gets people to talk about the movie.”