A petition launched against the Netflix film 365 Days (365 DNI in Polish) has gained over 75,000 signatures as of July 10. This petition accuses the film of ‘glorifying Stockholm Syndrome’. Launched by social media figure Mikayla Zazon, the campaigner wrote that Netflix was ‘mocking’ victims of abuse. 365 Days was made available on Netflix last month.  Since then, it has gone ahead to become one of the biggest blockbusters to hit the streaming service in 2020.

The Outrage

Social media outrage has been mounting since the film debuted on Netflix. Viewers over the world have been calling for its removal from the streaming giant. Recently, the bluntest criticism of the film came from the Welsh singer Duffy who wrote an open letter Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings. “It grieves me that Netflix provides a platform for such ‘cinema’, that eroticises kidnapping and distorts sexual violence and trafficking as a ‘sexy’ movie,” she wrote.

Duffy, who recently revealed harrowing details of her own kidnapping and rape ordeal, continued, “we all know Netflix would not host material glamorising paedophilia, racism, homophobia, genocide, or any other crimes against humanity. Tragically, victims of trafficking and kidnapping are unseen, and yet in 365 Days their suffering is made into an ‘erotic drama’, as described by Netflix.”

Also Read: Preventing Rape: It’s Time We Moved From Outrage To Action

The Petition

While the series is getting mixed reviews, the petition bluntly points out all that is wrong with it, “For those who have watched it, we know (the male lead) talks about child trafficking, sedates her, imprisons her, sexually assaults her and has sexual relations with her without consent. The main character also uses abuse tactics such as gas lighting, coercion, reproductive coercion and Stockholm Syndrome to financially, physically, sexually, emotionally and digitally abuse the woman he had taken.” The petition states that Netflix should have included a disclaimer about the sexual violence within the film, and wants it removed permanently.

The Film

In my personal opinion, everything that the petition claims is true. Watching the film, I was horrified at the callous way it handled sexual and emotional abuse. The plot revolves around a mafia hunk, Massimo, who drugs and kidnaps a young girl named Laura. He then forces her to stay with him for a year. The deal that Massimo offers to Laura is: after spending 365 days together if she decides that she has still not fallen in love with him, she can walk away freely. Sounds scary and absurd? Well, it gets worse!

There is a scene where Massimo insinuates that had Laura not dressed “like a wh**e,” he wouldn’t have had to shoot his fellow businessman for sexually assaulting her. What’s even more pathetic is that we see Laura actually apologising to Massimo for “disobeying him”. (If you’ve never known what the word “gaslighting” means, this is a prime and true example). Oh, and what anyone wears, does not ever warrant a rape or sexual assault. Ever. Then comes the entire problem of 365 Days perpetuating the already existing stigma around BDSM. Massimo ties up Laura without her consent. Neither does he establish any safe words, nor does he have any sort of conversation about boundaries/limits with her. The sexual scenes in the film hence become extremely problematic and, to be quite frank, disgusting.

Also Read: Teenage Wasteland: How Boys Locker Rooms form the bottom tier of rape culture

The fear that this film will have a negative effect on the minds of the youth is not unsubstantiated. Adolescent teens around the world are making this movie a trend. Which would have been okay if the inspiration to have 365 Days inspired sexual experiences didn’t include posting bruises all over their bodies as proof. The manipulative behaviour that is shown to be seemingly okay in the film, will only end up feeding into the culture of toxic masculinity. Does the outrage, or the petition then stand unfounded when all this is taken into consideration? Isn’t it the responsibility of streaming platforms too, that they don’t show such negligence in signing films that support sexual violence? Because in the end, whose fault will it be when boys see such horrific behaviour as permission to sexually assault women?

Picture Credit: Netflix

Dyuti Gupta is an intern with SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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