After Netflix released the award-winning French film “Cuties” on its platform this week, it currently faces renewed backlash from subscribers as well as members of Congress.
The movie which has received much criticism for its sexualizing of young girls, has received calls for investigation from some senators.
The film titled “Mignonnes” was released in France in February, and won a directing award from the Sundance Institute. The film follows an 11-year-old girl named Amy (Fathia Youssouf) growing up in a poor suburb of Paris, trying to find her place in the world.
Amy has to please her family with origins from Senegal and are devout Muslims, but she eventually defies her family’s strict rules when she joins a group of friends who have their own dance troupe.
During an interview with Netflix, Maïmouna Doucouré, the film’s director, said that elements of her own childhood were incorporated in the movie, as the portrayal of Amy shows her (Maïmouna’s) struggles between two distinct modes of femininity: i.e., the first being traditional values of her Senegalese and Muslim upbringing, the second was how femininity was perceived by Western society.
“I recreated the little girl who I was at that age,” she said. “Growing up in two cultures is what gave me the strength and the values I have today.”
She added “As a child, that question of how to become a woman was my obsession”.
The idea for the film came to Ms. Doucouré after seeing a group of 11-year-olds performing a “very sexual, very sensual” dance when she attended a neighbourhood gathering in Paris. For the film, nearly a year and a half were spent by Ms. Doucouré on research and interviews with hundreds of preteens in preparation to shoot the film.
Netflix was told by Ms. Doucouré “I needed to know how they felt about their own femininity in today’s society and how they dealt with their self-image at a time when social media is so important”.
Ms. Doucouré said more girls will perceive the idea that a woman is successful, if a woman appears more sexualized on social media.
“Children just imitate what they see to achieve the same result without understanding the meaning,” she said. “And yeah, it’s dangerous.”
The film “Cuties” was released in theaters on Aug 19th in France, where it did not receive much controversy.
However, parents, politicians and conspiracy theorists in the United States called for the removal of the film or even get the Department of Justice involved, as the hashtag #CancelNetflix has trended on Twitter. For the artwork it created to market “Cuties” to streaming audiences last month, and after receiving a backlash of criticism for what was seen as inappropriately sexualizing the film’s young stars, Netflix finally issued an apology.
The film’s sex and nudity were regarded in an IMDb parents’ guide rates as “severe.” There were scenes where young girls wore revealing outfits while dancing suggestively.
With the presidential elections looming close by, Republican supporters are suggesting an alleged conspiracy theory that puts top Democrats and celebrities behind a global child trafficking ring, and are calling out for the removal of the film.
The film was not deemed by the reviewers at the Sundance Film Festival as exploitive. Fionnuala Halligan, a film critic, wrote in Screen Daily, “The sight of twerking preteen bodies is explicitly designed to shock mature audiences into a contemplation of today’s destruction of innocence,”.
The film was “a social commentary against the sexualization of young children” according to a spokeswoman for Netflix.
“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.”
14th September 2020 20:00