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Cuties: A Netflix Controversy That Sexualises Children?

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More than 150,000 people are demanding the removal of a film they say sexualises children. One problem: they haven’t seen it.

Yesterday Netflix released promotional artwork and a trailer for a new film called Cuties (Mignonnes, in its original French). It is the feature-length debut by Maïmouna Doucouré, a young film-maker whose short film Mamans won a César award in 2017. The same year, her screenplay for Cuties won Sundance’s global film-making award, allowing her to develop the movie, which would go on to win the directing jury award at this year’s Sundance and get snapped up by Netflix. It’s fair to say, then, that the film was set to land on the platform with a good deal of advance hype.

Unfortunately, Netflix bungled the release. Cuties is, according to its synopsis, about Amy, an 11-year-old Senegalese Muslim, who is torn between the traditional values of her background and a group of rebellious young girls. Accordingly, the artwork selected to accompany previews of the film on Netflix, depicts Amy and other members of the gang in various twerking poses, presumably acting out some kind of routine. The picture is fairly tasteless, featuring the girls in flesh-baring tube tops and sexualised poses, which is what led to the online calls for the film’s cancellation (from people who hadn’t seen it).

Some people who have urged for a touch of common sense. The American actor Tessa Thompson tweeted < cbeal film. It gutted me at @sundancefest. It introduces a fresh voice at the helm. She’s a French Senegalese Black woman mining her experiences. The film comments on the hyper-sexualisation of preadolescent girls. Disappointed to see the current discourse.” An article by Caz Armstrong yesterday made a similar argument: “The audience is confronted by sexualised dance moves from 11-year old characters and we are forced to consider a world which encourages women and girls to act in that way.”

At time of writing, the change.org petition to remove the film from Netflix (whose caption reads: “This movie/show is disgusting as it sexualizes an ELEVEN year old for the viewing pleasure of paedophiles and also negatively influences our children! There is no need for this kind of content in that age group, especially when sex trafficking and paedophilia are so rampant! There is no excuse, this is dangerous content!”) has racked up more than 150,000 signatures. In the process, a black female first-time director has had her reputation run into the mud.

It’s worth noting that not all the reviews of Cuties, following its premiere at Sundance, were wholly positive. Amy Nicholson, writing for Variety, thought the film presented a “false choice” between its two universes and Kate Erbland in Indiewire found the film “moving and relatable” before becoming too contrived and sensational. But these are valid, considered criticisms based on the film itself.

It’s too obvious, and not quite correct, to state that the outrage machine has claimed another victim. Cuties will be released with new artwork, perhaps even with something of a publicity boost. Either way, this episode shows the damaging impact that the manipulation of words and imagery can have on the internet. As culture makes the journey online, it stands to suffer just as much as politics if people are not able to read pictures seek information and recognise disingenuous arguments.

Netflix has now apologised for its “inappropriate artwork”, which it says was “not OK, nor was it representative of this film”. That is unlikely to satisfy many of the petitioners, who will not have looked further into this issue – but is perhaps a step at least towards setting the movie back on its previous course.

Information Regarding The show & Netflix

Cuties follows 11-year-old Amy, from Senegal, who is torn between her family’s traditional, conservative lifestyle, and the escape offered by free-spirited neighbour Angelica and her dance gang.

It earned Franco-Senegalese film-maker Doucouré the world cinema dramatic directing award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

It has just been released in French cinemas under its original name Mignonnes.

It is not a Netflix original and will arrive on the platform next month. Many people on social media criticised the depictions.

Netflix has announced that they will stream a new film called Cuties about an 11-year-old girl who heroically rebelled against her parents by joining a dance troupe. According to Netflix, “Cuties” is the story of an 11-year-old girl named Amy who becomes fascinated by the twerks on the dance teams and begins to explore femininity. [Sources: 4, 10]
“Cuties” is a French film directed by Maimouna Doucoure that is set to premiere on Netflix in September and tells the story of 11-year-old Amy. The film, which tackles the challenges of being a black immigrant in France and takes a powerful look at the intersection of race, gender and sexuality in the United States, is set to premiere on Netflix in September. [Sources: 7, 12]
The TV ratings for the film have further incited Twitter users to accuse Netflix of producing child porn and running a paedophile ring. The French film “Cutie” has been accused by many Netflix of misrepresenting and hypersexualising children. This has sparked a veritable firestorm of people calling for a boycott of the disgusting film, which is harmful to children and a paedophile’s pleasure.

Do you agree with what is to be shown on Netflix?, what are your thoughts on the whole Cuties culture right now?

Leave your comments below so we can all discuss it.

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