There’s nothing salacious or cute about ‘Cuties’ – it’s better than that
Know what you’re talking about before you jump on your phone and criticise a tenderly realised film
About a month ago a small, independent, French-made, Sundance award-winning film was thrown into a cultural wars vortex. It was intended as a critique and discussion starter about the sexualisation of children in the digital age, but for many uninformed, outraged social media conservative dolts who hadn’t seen it, it became an example of the very thing it was supposed to be criticising.
The outrage was spurred by an ill-advised publicity poster, which Netflix posted ahead of the film’s release on the platform, showing the young girls at the centre of the film’s story — the “Mignonnes” or “Cuties” — posing suggestively in skimpy costumes, about to perform a sexy dance for viewers. The backlash was, as it often is in the age of Twitter and Facebook, swift and severe, with people recoiling in disgust at the sexualisation of children that the poster seemed to be promoting and demanding, film unseen, that Netflix remove Cuties from its service. The call was quickly taken up by US political representatives and conservative media pundits, and Netflix at least seemed to have half-heard after it removed the poster and apologised.
The streaming service did not, however, bow to the pressure to remove the film. Were those so outraged by an admittedly stupid mistake on the part of the Netflix publicity team, actually to take the time and watch the film, what they would find is a carefully, tenderly realised piece of social realism that examines the pressures placed on female children. In an increasingly sexualised world, they are constantly bombarded on social media, easily and quickly available at the click of a button, with ideals of what women should be to rise to Kardashian heights of digital celebrity...