The movie Cuties sparked worldwide outrage once again after its release on Netflix.
The French film features the main character Amy (Fathia Youssouf), who joins a hip-hop dance crew with three other young girls. Amy comes from a conservative Muslim family, and she becomes fascinated with the carefree local dance crew.
The film was involved in a controversy weeks before its release on Netflix. A revealing promotional photo featured the eleven-year-old girls depicted sexually.
Netflix said in a statement released on Aug. 20: “We’re deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Migonnes/Cuties. It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which won an award at Sundance.”
The media attention died down until the film released on Sept. 9, and #CancelNetflix was trending on Twitter. While cancel culture can sometimes be a little toxic, I believe this movie is deserving of the world’s criticism.
In an interview with critic Aramide Tinubu, Cuties’ director Maïmouna Doucouré said, “I’m eager to see their reaction when they realize that we’re both on the same side of this fight against young children’s hyper-sexualization.”
Even if this movie was meant to be a commentary on social media’s hyper-sexualization of young girls, the film itself hypersexualizes eleven-year-old girls. There is a clear contradiction between intent and execution.
There is no reason eleven-year-old characters should be portrayed in a sexual, mature way for entertainment. There is no other context that is needed in this situation.
Cuties has been the subject of heated online debate. This issue has even gained the attention of numerous US politicians.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz called for the Department of Justice to intervene. Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard claimed in a Twitter statement that the film would “whet the appetites of pedophiles.”
Republican Senator Mike Lee even wrote a letter to Netflix demanding a response to his series of questions by the end of the week.
Despite the frequent government interventions, it is misleading that many media outlets are framing the movie to be a political issue. The movie is not a part of any right-wing or left-wing agenda.
Even if Doucouré had good intentions when directing Cuties, it is still a film that hypersexualizes young girls. There are other, safer ways to create a social commentary on this issue without contributing and normalizing the problem on screen for viewers.