Maïmouna Doucouré’s film ‘Cuties’ broke the internet when its trailer dropped on Netflix’s YouTube account, announcing the films’ September 9th release date on the platform. People on Twitter were livid and calling for #CancelNetflix if they continued with the release of this film.
The trailer, caption, and artwork of the film depicted young girls in sexual poses and very little clothing. Opposers of the film claimed Netflix was supporting child pornography and pedophilia with the film.
Take a look for yourself at the films trailer:
After it’s release thousands took to social media, even politicians claiming the film promotes child pornography. Even an online petition gathered over 60,000 signatures according to Perez Hilton. Beyond the outpour on social media Senators from various states have written letters to have legal action taken against Netflix over the release of this film. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas asked for the Department of Justice to investigate if Netflix and its executives violated any laws in the release of this film.1
All of the sudden backlash caused Netflix to issue an apology for misrepresenting the film. People still were not satisfied and threatened to cancel their subscription if Netflix decided to release this film.
Netflix then updated the description and artwork used for the promotion of the film. Taking the word “twerking” completely out of the description. The film description on Netflix now reads:
“Eleven-year-old Amy starts to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew.”
September 9th the film is released.
Once again social media went into an uproar over the film. On the same day as the Films release, the Senegalese-French writer-director Maïmouna Doucouré had an interview released on the Netflix Film Club Youtube channel explaining why she created the film Cuties. Doucouré drew on her own experiences growing up. The film is a coming of age story for young girls in modern times. The group of girls in this film represent today’s youth, strongly influenced by social media and following what they saw online. Taking the internet as their standards of femineity and bringing it into their everyday lives.
On September 15, Doucouré released a piece on The Washington past again explaining her position on the film. “And that’s why I made ‘Cuties’: to start a debate about the sexualization of children in society today so that maybe — just maybe — politicians, artists, parents, and educators could work together to make a change that will benefit children for generations to come.”2
For those who constantly criticized the film, I have one question. Did you watch the film?
I take it for the majority of people, still calling to cancel Netflix, that answer would be no. Nowhere in the film is child pornography shown or promoted. The only time nudity is seen in the film it comes from an actor over the age of 18.
Are their uncomfortable moments in the film when the children are behaving in a “sexual” manner, yes. Although someone who watched the film could quickly see that everything the young girls do, they learn from what they see on social media. Their actions are never praised or rewarded
This film sheds light on a very important conversation about what children are exposed to, along with how it is a reflection of their home life. Amy, the main character, leads to wanting to dance and act in a manner not expected for her age as a sign of rebellion to her family, and religion. While her friend Angie uses her dancing to form friendships and relationships from others. With her parents always working they are not big influences in her life. Angie just wants her parents to see her dance.
Yasmine is the only other child whose parent is shown in the film. Although only for a brief moment, her mother is depicted as always buying Yasmine expensive things.
These young girls just want to be accepted and will do anything to get there. The pressure they constantly put on themselves to feel accepted, not only in society but in their group, is heartbreaking.
‘Cuties’ or Mignonnes, its original French title, is a film that many can learn from. The story of two cultures clashing and this whirlwind of events and its rippling effects on Amy. Along with young girls wanting to be accepted in society, based on what they see on social media from women. Kids should be allowed to just be kids, the pressures of society on them is like no other.
In the words of Maïmouna Doucouré herself “It’s my sincerest hope that this conversation doesn’t become so difficult that it too gets caught up in today’s ‘cancel culture.’ “