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Netflix original film ‘Cuties’ criticized for sexual portrayal of young girls

Netflix original film ‘Cuties’ criticized for sexual portrayal of young girls

Posted September. 24, 2020 07:42,   

Updated September. 24, 2020 07:42


A petition titled “Cancel Netflix Subscription” was launched on the global petition platform change.org website in mid-Sep. As many as 658,000 people signed the petition as of Wednesday. There are tens and thousands of posts on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtags, “#CancelNetflix” and “#BoycottNetflix.” Some people even posted screenshots of their Netflix subscription cancellations.

This social media campaign to boycott Netflix began following the release of Netflix original movie “Cuties” on Sept. 9. Directed by French-Senegalese film director Maïmouna Doucouré, the film depicts how 11-year-old Amy from a conservative Muslim family rebels against her oppressive religion and culture after participating in a dance competition with her school friends.

The film, which won the director the Jury Award for Directing (World Cinema Dramatic) at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival early this year, has found itself at the center of controversy that it sexualized children by showing pre-teen girls dancing sexually.

The most controversial scene in the film is when Mignonnes, a dance team formed by Amy and her friends, twerks on the ground in crop tops and hot pants. The girls stick their tongues out and bite their fingers when the camera closes up on Amy’s buttocks, stomach, and thighs. Some people called the streaming giant “pedoflix” for satisfying the desires of pedophiles.

Those who are critical of Cuties say they understand the message of the film but there are problems in the way it expresses it.

“There is clearly a problem with the director’s view on girls and the camera angle that looks at girls’ bodies from the eyes of an adult,” said movie critic Choi Jae-hoon. “Celine Sciamma’s Tomboy frequently shows the naked body of a teenage girl who wants to be a boy but it never sexually objectifies her body.”

Jeong Yeon-soo, 26, who majored in film directing, pointed out that if the director wanted to capture the femininity from the eyes of 11-year-old girls, such direction would have not been possible, adding she could feel the gaze of a male adult from the close-up of girls’ pelvis and buttocks.

Netflix and the director Doucouré defended the film, saying it points out the reality, where young girls uncritically imitate the image of femininity created on the social media. In an interview with Netflix, Doucouré said she wanted to know how young girls were “constructing their own femininity in today’s society and how they were doing with their self-image at a time when social media is so important.” She added that young girls feel that the more a woman is sexualized on social media, the more she is successful and it is dangerous. Netflix also said in a statement that “Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children.”

Jae-Hee Kim jetti@donga.com