365 Days is back, so here’s a reminder of all the controversy surrounding the Netflix film
Singer Duffy wrote an open letter to Netflix saying it glamorises sexual assault and requested it get taken down
Netflix movie 365 Days is back with its sequel, 365 Days: This Day. People get quickly sucked into the pull and sex appeal of the film, but that’s not forgetting that the first 365 Days instalment was surrounded by a lot of controversy.
The film follows Italian mafia boss Massimo, who kidnaps a woman called Laura and gives her 365 days to fall in love with him, or he will set her free. From then onwards, the film is let’s just say, not the sort of thing you want to watch with your parents. Massimo ties Laura up in explicit sex scenes and spoiler: She falls in love with him.
When the first movie came out, people called it out for its themes, depiction of sexual violence and singer Duffy even wrote an open letter to Netflix. There were calls for the title to be taken down completely. Here’s a recap of what happened.
When the first 365 Days film was released there was huge controversy surrounding its themes
The film was criticised for its approach to consent and sexual violence, and people said Laura and Massimo’s relationship resembled Stockholm syndrome. Stockholm syndrome is a condition in which hostages develop a psychological bond with their captors during captivity. “Nobody owns me, I’m not an object. You can’t have me just like that; kidnap me and think that I’m all yours,” is what Laura says when Massimo first kidnaps her in the film. “I know,” he replies. “But that’s why I’m giving you a chance to love me.”
There were multiple petitions made requesting the film get taken down by Netflix. The most widespread one currently has 96k signatures and is titled “Remove 365 Days from Netflix for Glorifying Stockholm Syndrome and Abuse”. “One in four women experiences domestic violence in their life,” the page reads. “And Netflix clearly stands on the side of the abusers by having a movie that glorifies, romanticises, and condones sexual assault trending on their top 10 recommended movies to watch around the globe.”
Singer Duffy wrote an open letter to Netflix following her experiences
Welsh singer Duffy wrote an open letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings asking for the film to be taken down as it “glamourises rape”. She had only recently gone public with her own experiences, saying she had been out of the public eye after being kidnapped and raped herself over a period of four weeks.
The letter was published by Deadline and here it is in full:
Recently I wrote publicly about an ordeal I was subject to. I was drugged, kidnapped, trafficked and raped. I released a statement of my personal account, which you may find online in further detail on http://www.duffywords.com.
Today, I really don’t know what to think, say, or do, other than to reach out and explain to you in this letter how irresponsible it was of Netflix to broadcast the film ‘365 Days’. I don’t want to be in this position to have to write to you, but the virtue of my suffering obliges me to do so, because of a violent experience that I endured of the kind that you have chosen to present as ‘adult erotica’.
‘365 Days’ glamorises the brutal reality of sex trafficking, kidnapping and rape. This should not be anyone’s idea of entertainment, nor should it be described as such, or be commercialised in this manner.
I write these words (ones I cannot believe I am writing in 2020, with so much hope and progress gained in recent years), as an estimated 25 million people are currently trafficked around the world, not to mention the untold amounts of people uncounted. Please take a moment to stop and pause, and think about that number, equivalent to almost half the population of England. And of those trafficked annually, no less than 80% are women and girls, and 50% of them are minors.
It grieves me that Netflix provides a platform for such ‘cinema’, that eroticises kidnapping and distorts sexual violence and trafficking as a “sexy” movie. I just can’t imagine how Netflix could overlook how careless, insensitive, and dangerous this is. It has even prompted some young women, recently, to jovially ask Michele Morrone, the lead actor in the film, to kidnap them.
We all know Netflix would not host material glamorising pedophilia, racism, homophobia, genocide, or any other crimes against humanity. The world would rightly rise up and scream. Tragically, victims of trafficking and kidnapping are unseen, and yet in ‘365 Days’ their suffering is made into a “erotic drama”, as described by Netflix.
And so, I am compelled to speak on their behalf, and to ask you to right this wrong; to commit the resources of Netflix, and the skills of its talented film-makers, to producing and broadcasting content that portrays the truth of the harsh and desperate reality of what ‘365 Days’ has sought to turn into a work of casual entertainment.
I calm myself to explain to you here – when I was trafficked and raped, I was lucky to come away with my life, but far too many have not been so lucky. And now I have to witness these tragedies, and my tragedy, eroticised and demeaned. Where can one turn? But to have to address you in writing.
To anyone who may exclaim ‘it is just a movie’, it is not ‘just’, when it has great influence to distort a subject which is widely undiscussed, such as sex trafficking and kidnapping, by making the subject erotic.
And because ‘365 Days’ has proved enormously popular, I also address this letter to viewers directly. I encourage the millions who have enjoyed the movie to reflect on the reality of kidnapping and trafficking, of force and sexual exploitation, and of an experience that is the polar opposite of the glossy fantasy depicted in ‘365 Days’.
As we approach World day against trafficking in persons on 30th July, I encourage Netflix and everyone who has watched ‘365 Days’ to learn more about human trafficking by visiting https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/human-trafficking/what-is-human-trafficking.html and to pledge to make a difference to organizations such as: catwinternational.org, hopeforjustice.org, polarisproject.org, antislavery.org, stopthetraffik.org, unseenuk.org, notforsalecampaign.org, ijm.org, a21.org and madeforthem.org.
If all of you at Netflix take nothing from this open letter but these final words, I will be content. You have not realised how ‘365 Days’ has brought great hurt to those who have endured the pains and horrors that this film glamorises, for entertainment and for dollars. What I and others who know these injustices need is the exact opposite – a narrative of truth, hope, and to be given a voice.
When we know better, let us do better, Duffy.
Netflix never commented on the controversy surrounding 365 Days and both the first film and sequel 365 Days: This Day are available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook.