Too Cute for Comfort

Though the director of Netflix’s Cuties intended otherwise, the film’s sexualization of young girls is irresponsible and potentially dangerous.


image courtesy of Netflix

Netflix issued an apology in August in regard to its choice of promotional art for the film Cuties, directed by Maïmouna Doucouré.

Mia Dudek, Staff Writer

After viewing the first few minutes of the new Netflix movie Cuties — or even merely the trailer — it is no wonder why a recent petition for subscribers to cancel their subscriptions gained over 600,000 signatures. The controversial film, directed by Maïmouna Doucouré, has put the company in a hot spot with many viewers. It has even prompted the #cancelnetflix  trend on social media.

It’s hard to imagine that anyone is all that surprised.

Cuties follows an 11-year-old girl named Amy, who move into a new apartment with her mom and brother, awaiting the arrival of her father. She soon meets a group of dancers through school who call themselves “The Cuties.” Immediately intrigued, Amy strives to become their friend.

It all sounds normal enough — but it certainly doesn’t look that way. The movie repetitively sexualizes these young actresses, and many viewers, including myself, have found the film disturbing and extremely hard to watch.

From start to finish, the young girls dress provocatively, far from any reasonable standard of age-appropriateness. In one scene, the character Angelica wears tight leather pants, a red crop top, and high heels. In another, Amy can be seen in a hot pink corset.  Crop tops and booty shorts recur throughout the entire movie, which, again, centers on girls in grade school. 

But the girls’ dance moves outdo their apparel in regard to explicitness. The Cuties twerk, they hump, they spread their legs, and they touch themselves in provocative ways.

The public has every right to protest this movie, which unintentionally offers up 90 minutes of easy access for child predators to enjoy.”

Many viewers feel that the most outrageous moment is a twerking scene that takes place in a laundromat.

As Amy tries to come up with new dance moves for their routine, she stumbles upon an adult website with a video of undressed women twerking. She is fascinated, so at her next dance practice, which takes place in a laundromat, she teaches the girls how to twerk. They proceed to twerk on the ground for the remainder of the scene.

But in my opinion, as disgusting as the laundromat scene is, the film’s most disturbing scene takes place in an indoor laser tag facility. The Cuties are caught sneaking in without payment by an employee, who threatens to call the police. An older manager gets involved, wanting to know what has happened. Amy then proceeds to dance for the manager, who is well into his fifties, in order to get out of trouble.  The scene ends with the girls’ release, leaving the manager with a pleased smile on his face.

It’s important to point out that the film’s supporters believe Doucoure’s movie has been misunderstood, specifically that it intends to denounce what it appears to endorse.  As critic Peter Bradshaw wrote, “[T]he film and its accusers turn out to be on the same side: Mignonnes attacks the pornification of girls and young women by social media and society in general; it is about the false promise of liberation in this kind of sexualized display.”

Additionally, the director herself has made it clear that she intended to use the film to cast a negative light on the media’s sexualization of young girls. In an interview with Netflix, she detailed her intentions.

It’s not at all clear, however, that the film succeeds in that regard.  The public has every right to protest this movie, which unintentionally offers up 90 minutes of easy access for child predators to enjoy. At a time when sex-trafficking annually victimizes over 4,000,000 people, most of them girls and women, the release of such a film is highly questionable. It’s therefore no surprise that some critics are calling the film “child pornography,” saying it hypersexualizes children

To know that such a movie is so easily accessible to Netflix’s over 180,000,000 subscribers is morally unsettling. Although Netflix released a statement in August apologizing for the artwork used to promote Cuties, the film is still available to watch on Netflix.