Popular Netflix Film Romanticizes Kidnapping and Sexual Assault

The Polish film premiered on Netflix in June 2020 and is based on the bestselling novel, 365 dni, written by Blanka Lipinska. The film, titled 365 Days, is categorized as an erotic drama and is rated TV-MA (not suitable for ages 17 and under). However, it is often recommended by Netflix for teens and young adults. This is concerning because the “intimacy” and “romance” that viewers are drawn to is actually abuse, as the relationship is based entirely on power and control.

Movie Recap
The male lead, Massimo, kidnaps the female lead, Laura, from her vacation. Massimo later tells Laura that he did it to “rescue her” from her boyfriend, who is cheating on her. This gives the audience a sense that Massimo is somewhat of a hero, and has good intentions. Throughout the film, Laura fights Massimo’s words by telling him that she will never love him.

Massimo is the typical male lead in a sexualized drama – attractive, rich, and powerful. A phrase, “Are you lost, baby girl?” is used often by Massimo to make the audience think he’s there to “save” or “rescue” her. The phrase also compares her to a little girl, which denies her sense of self as an adult.

After kidnapping Laura and taking her to a mansion, Massimo explains to Laura that he typically cannot control himself, that he’s not a gentle man, but that he won’t touch her unless she says it’s okay (consent). Ultimately, Laura agrees to marry Massimo, after he scolds her for how she is dressed in a night club, calls her degrading names and gets mad when she continually stands up for herself.

Some viewers posted on social media, saying that they are basically watching Laura fall victim of Stockholm Syndrome, which is when a victim experiences feeling attachment, trust, sympathy or affection for someone who has kidnapped them.

The film shows multiple sex scenes, marriage and murder.

Why The Film Is Disturbing
Unfortunately, pop culture in the United States continually romanticizes obsession. On social media, many people are comparing the film to 50 Shades of Gray. Unfortunately, the target audience for both of these films is young women, ages 16-24. The common factor? Both films feature a dominant, physically attractive man who use sex as a means of power and control over a woman.

365 Days is still trending as “Most Popular” on Netflix, which is problematic because many young children and teens have access to it. A teen’s first time being exposed to relationships and sex could be through film, other media or pornography, especially if the conversation doesn’t happen at home or in school.

We can see how kids and adults can confuse love with abuse and obsession. Movies and shows encourage viewers to normalize and accept that this type of behavior is sexy.

Teens on TikTok
Young women (some as young as 15) are continuing to praise the film by posting short videos to TikTok, where they show videos of themselves with bruises, bragging about their 365 Days-inspired sex. To find out more about teens’ reactions and thoughts on the film, search #365Days or #365dni on the TikTok app. If you are unfamiliar with TikTok, CommonSenseMedia offers a digital guide for parents: https://www.commonsensemedia.org/blog/parents-ultimate-guide-to-tiktok.

Concerns about Sexual Assault
Teens, especially young boys and men, may see this film mentioned on a friend’s social media post, watch the film and then assume that a young woman wants this type of abusive relationship – thinking that she finds it sexy or attractive to be kidnapped and abused. It is not okay to normalize abusive relationships, sexual assault or kidnapping.

365 Days and movies with a similar storyline are demeaning to sexual assault survivors. To date, more than 16,000 people have signed an online petition asking Netflix to remove film: https://www.change.org/p/netflix-netflix-remove-365-days-for-glorifying-human-trafficking-and-stockholm-syndrome.

What Can Parents Do?
We aren’t saying that you should shame your teenager or young adult if they’re curious about the film, or if they’ve watched it. Rather, we recommend starting an open and honest conversation about consent, relationships and sex, and making sure that your child feels comfortable coming to you or another trusted adult with questions or concerns.

To learn more about how to start the conversation about healthy relationships, visit https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/family-resources-education/700childrens/2019/09/how-open-conversations-with-kids-promote-healthy-relationships.

Additional Resources
Tips for Having “The Talk”

Age-Specific Toolkits – Reproductive Health, Relationships and Sex https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/parents


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