Warning: This article may be triggering for some readers. Please read at your own discretion.
Three months after going public with the harrowing and in-depth details of the life-changing kidnapping which she said led to her disappearance from the public eye a decade ago, Duffy — the iconic Welsh pop singer — is criticizing Netflix for releasing its 365 Days movie, as she believes it “glamourizes the brutal reality of sex trafficking, kidnapping and rape.”
Following widespread criticism against the controversial 2020 “erotic drama” online, the 36-year-old musician penned an open-letter to the streaming giant and its CEO Reed Hastings on Thursday (July 2) calling for him to “right this wrong.”
After recounting her own experience with being “drugged, kidnapped, trafficked and raped,” Duffy said it was “irresponsible” of Hastings, 59, to allow Netflix to broadcast 365 Days on its platform, in the lengthy address which was obtained by CNN.
“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’,” the singer, born Aimee Duffy, wrote in the letter’s introduction.
As noted by Duffy, 365 Days is listed as an “erotic drama” movie. It’s about a Polish woman who falls under the spell of Stockholm syndrome after being kidnapped, raped and abused by a Sicillian gangster, who attempts to make her fall in love with him within a year — or 365 days — while in his clutches.
The Barbara Białowąs and Tomasz Mandes-directed film is based off of Polish author Blanka Lipińska’s 2018 novel of the same name. 365 Dni is the Polish translation.
Of the film’s taboo plot, Duffy said that it “should not be anyone’s idea of entertainment,” adding that it should not be “described as such, or be commercialized in this manner” either.
“It grieves me that Netflix provides a platform for such ‘cinema,’ that eroticizes kidnapping and distorts sexual violence and trafficking as a ‘sexy’ movie,” the Mercy hit-maker said. “I just can’t imagine how Netflix could overlook how careless, insensitive, and dangerous this is.”
Debuting last February in Poland, 365 Days was a hit at the box office. It grossed US$9 million, before running in select cinemas across the U.K., according to Deadline.
The move made its Netflix debut last month and has since made its top 10 trending charts across various countries and territories, including the U.K.
“Because 365 Days has proved enormously popular, I also address this letter to viewers directly,” Duffy said. “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,” she added.
The Bangor-born singer later shared statistics with Hastings, saying that “an estimated 25 million people” are trafficked around the world annually, before noting that 80 per cent of them were women and the number is “equivalent to almost half the population of England.”
Suggesting that Netflix removes the film and instead release more appropriate content, Duffy said, “I 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,” she added. “And now I have to witness these tragedies, and my tragedy, eroticised and demeaned,” the Stepping Stone singer added.
Duffy continued: “If all of you at Netflix take nothing from this open letter but these final words, I will be content. What I and others who know these injustices need is a narrative of truth, hope, and to be given a voice.”
“When we know better, let us do better,” she concluded.
Before going public with her own horrific story, the last fans heard from Duffy was in 2010, when she released her critically acclaimed sophomore album Endlessly.
“It was my birthday,” Duffy wrote in a post on a website called duffywords.com back in April — which details her kidnapping. “I was drugged at a restaurant, I was drugged for four weeks and travelled to a foreign country,” she added.
“I can’t remember getting on the plane and came round in the back of a travelling vehicle. I was put into a hotel room and the perpetrator returned and raped me,” she continued in the statement.
Though she did not disclose who “the perpetrator” was, or specifically when and where the assault occurred, Duffy said that hiding her story for so long was “destroying life,” adding that she wanted to share it to “be freed” of her inner demons.’
Recounting being held hostage in her own home, Duffy said: “I knew my life was in immediate danger,” alleging her attacker had “made veiled confessions of wanting to kill” her.
“With what little strength I had, my instinct was to then run, to run and find somewhere to live that he could not find,” she added.
For the majority of the 2010s — after years of success in the late 2000s — fans across the world were left wondering where, exactly, the Mercy singer “disappeared off to.”
Afterward, Duffy said she had relocated five times in only a span of three years as a result of “never feeling safe from the rapist.”
“I was on the run for so long,” she wrote. “The fifth house was not as confined as the other houses — where I grieved silently. This place I would spend solitary years to find the stability to recover,” she added.
Addressing her music career, Duffy said she constantly worried about making a comeback and being met with questions about her disappearance.
While admitting she didn’t want to lie or “fabricate” any false stories, she admitted: “I thought the public disclosure of my story would utterly destroy my life, emotionally.”
Global News has reached out to a representative of Netflix seeking comment.
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