“Cuties” is not just distasteful, it’s disturbing

Photo courtesy of methodshop.com, Flickr

Last week, the hashtag “#cancelNetflix” was trending nationwide on Twitter due to Netflix’s recent controversial release.

The French film “Cuties” has been critically acclaimed, as it won a Directing Award at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival and has an 85% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It only makes sense for a top streaming service like Netflix to buy the rights to it, and it was released internationally on Sept. 9.

However, because of the sexual exploitation of minors seen throughout the film, Netflix subscribers were furious that the production giant decided to not only associate with the film, but also promote the sexualized imagery by making the poster a provocative photo of the children.

 This is not just poor taste: this is being viewed as a legal issue. Republican U.S. Senator Josh Hawley tweeted against Netflix’s decision to purchase this film.

“Netflix should explain to the public why it is distributing a film, “Cuties,” that appears to sexually exploit children and endanger child welfare,” Hawley tweeted with screenshots of a formal letter he wrote to Reed Hastings, the C.E.O of Netflix, addressing the matter.

Surprisingly, it appears that this opinion is shared by both parties, which when it comes down to any American issue, is a rarity. While Republicans have been more vocal about the legality of streaming “Cuties” as it has been categorized by some as child pornography, Christine Pelosi, daughter of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, released a statement.

“[Cuties] hypersexualizes girls my daughter’s age no doubt to the delight of pedophiles like the ones I prosecuted,” Pelosi said.

I tried watching the movie “Cuties” so I could write this piece, and I could not finish it. The beginning of the film is tolerable, as it follows an 11-year-old immigrant girl as she tries to fit in with the “popular” girls at her new school, so she learns how to dance in order to be included. It seems that the farther you get into the film though, the more inappropriate and creepy it gets.

Personally, I had to stop watching after the group of girls were stopped by security when breaking into a laser tag center. In order to be let off the hook by the two men, the protagonist twerked and sensually danced in front of them to “prove” that they were innocent dancers. After watching them, the creepy security guards let them go.

After this scene, I shut my laptop. Honestly, I don’t even know how I made it that far into the movie, but that scene especially was extremely gross, pedophilic and wrong, even if that was not the director’s original intentions.

“Cuties” director Maïmouna Doucouré received deserving backlash for the film, but she stands by its production. 

“The problem, of course, is that they [preteens] are not women, and they don’t realize what they are doing,” Doucouré said. “The girls [portrayed in the film performing in the local dance contest] don’t have the maturity, however, to realize what their gestures and dance moves look like to the audience.” 

I agree with politicians and those tweeting “#cancelNetflix.” Netflix providing the movie “Cuties” condones predatory behavior and shows scenes that are disturbing for a normal audience. The imagery in the film can easily stimulate the sexualization of children, and it normalizes the reels that child sex trafficking rings produce and the pedophiles who are arrested for possessing.