By James Fitzgerald
The controversy that kicked off
over a poster for a new Netflix film called “Cuties” has intensified after the
release of the film on September 9 in the US exploded claims by the streaming
service that the artwork did not reflect the film.
“Cuties is a social
commentary against the sexualization of young children,” a Netflix spokeswoman
told the Daily Caller on Thursday. “It’s an award winning film and a powerful
story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more
generally growing up – and we’d encourage anyone who cares about these
important issues to watch the movie.”
However, nearly 600,000 people have signed a Change.org petition titled, “Cancel Netflix Subscription“. The French film has also prompted the hashtag #CancelNetflix to trend on social media.
dropped from $509 on Wednesday to $480 at mid-day on Friday — wiping several
billion dollars from its valuation since the #CancelNetflix hashtag started
trending — although this flux could also
be attributed to general market conditions.
“I discovered the poster [at] the same time as the American public,” director Maimouna Doucoure said in an interview this month with Deadline. “My reaction? It was a strange experience. I hadn’t seen the poster until after I started getting all these reactions on social media, direct messages from people, attacks on me. I didn’t understand what was going on. That was when I went and saw what the poster looked like.”
Doucoure said she hoped Cuties would “make a big change in this
world that hypersexualizes children” and said that the Netflix posters were “not
representative of the film and especially its message.”
“I really put my heart into this film,” Doucoure told Deadline. She claims the story is partially autobiographical and about “children who have to navigate between a liberal Western culture and a conservative culture at home”.
However, the reaction to the film itself
has eclipsed the controversy over the original poster. Indeed, the movie is
rated TV-MA by US authorities, which carries the advisory: “This program is
intended to be viewed by mature, adult audiences and may be unsuitable for
children under 17.” This adult plot stars four 11-year-old girls.
Out of 6,500 reviews on IMDB, the film
garners an average of 1.7 out 10. Over at Rotten Tomatoes there is a stark
contrast between media critics’ appraisals, averaging at 88 percent, and the
audience response, at 3 percent.
According to The Blaze on Thursday, IMDB’s film page for Cuties described a moment in the film as “lawfully defined as pedophilia”.
It claimed a parental warning on the film
read: “During one of the many highly sexualized & erotic dance scenes that
purposefully exploit & objectify numerous scantily clad under age [sic]
girls, one of the female child dancers lifts up her cropped top to fully
display her bare breast. This is lawfully defined as pedophilia and can be extremely
distressing to many viewers.”
The page has since been modified, although
a visit to internet archive site Wayback Machine confirms the original posts.
Netflix may yet face legal repercussions for airing the film in the U.S., due to violations of Title 18, section 2256 of Chapter 110 — “sexual exploitation and other abuse of children”. The Fifth Circuit court established the “Dost test” in 1986 — a six-factor test to determine if images are child porn: 1. Whether the focal point of the visual depiction is on the child’s genitalia or pubic area; 2. Whether the setting of the depiction is sexually suggestive, that is, in a place or pose associated with sexual activity; 3. Whether the child is depicted in an unnatural pose or in inappropriate attire, considering the age of the child; 4. Whether the child is fully or partially nude; 5. Whether the visual depiction suggests sexual coyness or a willingness to engage in sexual activity; or 6. Whether the depiction is designed to elicit a sexual response in the viewer.
Earlier this month, Turkey ordered Netflix
to remove Cuties from its country’s catalogue.
Netflix is currently the biggest streaming
service in America. On its board sit Barack and Michelle Obama, Susan Rice, Meghan
Markle and Harry Windsor. These normally loquacious media personalities have
been very quiet on the controversy.
In an interview with
Tucker Carlson Tonight this week, political activist Tammy Bruce said: “Maybe
Jeffrey Epstein didn’t kill himself, and he’s working as a consultant — for
On the other hand,
the New Yorker magazine said the film was done “as a condemnation of the
The New Yorker had
no qualms about endorsing the movie, calling it “the extraordinary Netflix
debut that became the target of a right-wing campaign.” Britain’s Daily
Telegraph called it “a provocative powder-keg for an age terrified of child
described it variously as a “social commentary against the sexualization of
young children” an “award winning film” and “a powerful story”.
So is it an
indictment of child sexual exploitation or a celebration?
And where does the
#MeToo movement stand on this issue? Was it hijacked and then discarded by
globalists for their disruptive agenda, causing it to implode? Or did its
public supporters run for the hills under the weight of hypocrisy of messages
emanating from celebrity mouths?
The film choreographs the children to be
suggestive and sexual in scenes that place the emphasis on the characters being
inherently sexual, rather than innocents who are being conditioned by social
media. Even the scene on the bed with Amy (Fathia Youssouf) and Angelica (Medina El Aidi-Azouni )
involving them prostrate and gobbling up candy on the “marital bed” is
reminiscent of pornographic scenarios. What justification was there for having
close up shots on the crotches of the girls and on the exposed bottom of one
child, after she has her pants forcibly removed — itself an aggressive sexual
The dance routine by the girls involves
them twerking, lying on the floor face down while pumping their buttocks in
simulated sex, posing with their legs spread wide, and touching themselves
intimately. On their way to the competition, they are stopped by security
guards, who are then “twerked” by the girls in order to gain entry. The plot
involves one girl photographing her vagina and posting it online, a five-year-old
taking a turn at webcam porn, the protagonist at one point tries to snap a
photo of a boy in a urinal, and a girl is shown blowing up a used condom.
If this film was about exploring the
sinister aspects of objectification and sexualization of children, then it
could have carried subplots that highlighted the seedy nature of rap and Latin
culture’s self-sexualization tropes and the mental health effects of
pre-pubescent sexualization. Instead, the film borrows shooting conventions and
stylistic devices from the porn industry to create a perverse lens through
which the audience must participate if it is to engage with the story. One does
not come away after an hour and thirty-six minutes feeling more knowledgeable
of, or empathetic towards, a young girl’s world view, but rather as someone who
has been guided through an experience of scopophilia. This is not even the
so-called male gaze, but rather the pervert’s gaze.
Doucoure says she has also received “extraordinary
support” from the French government, and that the film will be used as an
educational tool in her home country.
She signed with Creative Artists Agency in Los Angeles after her film was selected for the Sundance festival. CAA was of course closely associated with Harvey Weinstein.
Pixar and Disney
films for children have been found to contain pizza delivery trucks, in the
former, and the rectangular squiggle that the CIA identified as a pedophile symbol
in the latter’s movies. Although there is no evidential link between those
symbolic inclusions in their kids’ films, sexual or phallic imagery has been
found in Disney films going back decades. Just because Cuties is a foreign
language film does not exclude it from scrutiny on those terms.
The liberal media
commentators who call the controversy over Cuties a “right-wing” campaign say
that most of those people haven’t even seen the film. But having seen the film
myself, I would say that the columnists in the corporate media haven’t watched
the film with an expert, semiotic eye.
As has been reported extensively on this site, sexual crimes against children reach into all corners of state institutions, not least the church. What is becoming apparent now is that a $150 billion industry exists to exploit and traffic youngsters, as evidenced by the widespread arrests and military operations across the country instituted by the current administration. Those figures and harsh realities are not so easy to dismiss, even though they may not sit well in the cocktail bars of the liberal cognoscenti or be given adequate coverage by the corporate media.
Cuties has polarized
opinions between the media’s arbiters of taste and the general public, but
judging by the swift uproar and pragmatism calling for its removal from
Netflix, the film may well suffer what the French call “la petite mort”.