I wasn’t planning on watching the new Netflix movie, “Cuties,” but as I write and speak a lot about the best interests and rights of children, given all the controversy around this film, I thought I should comment. In order to comment more fully, that sadly required me to watch the hour and a half long disturbing and at times dull and cringeworthy film.
“Cuties” aims to address the oversexualization of young girls by, irony of ironies, oversexualizing young girls to make their point. It is mind bending to me that those who wrote, produced, and directed this film could not see how exploitative making this movie was to these young actresses.
The Cuties is the name of a four-girl dance team whose goal is to compete in a larger dance competition. Amy, the main character of the film, is an 11-year-old immigrant from Senegal, living in Paris with her mother, her two younger brothers, and her aunt.
The family is Muslim. Amy’s father is in Senegal, and we learn he has fallen in love and will be taking a second wife, bringing her to Paris for their wedding. Amy’s mother is devastated, but per their polygamous tradition, she must wish them well and work to prepare for their wedding celebration.
Amy is living in a culture clash. At home, she attends regular prayer meetings with her mother and other women in their community, where she is told that “evil dwells in the bodies of uncovered women, therefore we must preserve our decency” and that “in hell there will be many more women than men.”
Twitter RespondsNetflix is taking a lot of heat for airing this disturbing film, and #CancelNetflix was trending for several days as people expressed their outrage by cancelling their Netflix subscriptions. The CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, tweeted an article from The Verge, “Why ‘Cancel Netflix’; is Trending,” adding his comment, “Some independent perspective on the Sundance award-winning French film Cuties.”
Jordan Perkins, succinctly put it this way on Twitter, “I don’t know who needs to hear this, but in order to create social commentary on the sexualization of kids, you don’t need to actually film the sexualization of kids.” Bingo!
Yes, the oversexualization of children is a huge problem everywhere, but the adults in the room need to address this problem while protecting children, not further exploiting them to make a point.
Here is a taste of one scene that RollingStone feels deserves to be seen: An adult family member finds out that Amy has stolen his phone. She is desperate to keep the phone. It is her “in” with the other girls as they use this phone to video tape and post their dance moves. Amy also uses his phone to post nude images of herself.
HarmMuch of the public here in the United States has been very critical of the vulgar behavior put on display by a group of 11-year-old girls, dressing, talking, and dancing in a manner that certainly is not decent or modest by any reasonable standard. As of the time of this writing, the audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is 3 percent, with reviewers saying things like, “’Cuties’ isn’t just an irresponsible movie, it’s also dull beyond belief.”
The fact that this film was made, won awards, and has been aired tells us more about the decay of modern culture and civilization. Cancelling Netflix as a trend will come and go. I doubt Netflix will be hit financially.
I worry about the harm done to the young girls who acted in this film, and the harm to young people who watch this film. I find exploiting children to make an adult point is morally reprehensible.
But the way for us to stop such movies from being made, is to address the cultural rot, namely the normalization of sexualizing children, right in front of us. To return to a time when children were respected, cherished, and protected. A time when such movies would be unthinkable.