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Controversy Behind Netflix’s Cuties, Explained

August 20, 2020
4 min read

‘Cuties’ is a French coming of age comedy-drama movie written and directed by Maïmouna Doucouré. Revolving around a traditional Senegalese Muslim girl who is caught between two contrasting destinies; one which focuses on her traditional values and the other which is centered around the internet culture, dancing, and the hyper-sexualization of pre-adolescent girls. The movie’s official synopsis reads: “Amy, an 11-year-old girl, joins a group of dancers named ‘the cuties’ at school, and rapidly grows aware of her burgeoning femininity – upsetting her mother and her values in the process.”

This movie, titled ‘Mignonnes’ in French, premiered at the World Cinema Dramatic Competition section of the Sundance Film Festival this year and won the Directing Jury Award. Now, to help it reach a worldwide audience, it is being released by Netflix. Set to premiere on September 9, 2020, this film already has a major controversy surrounding it. Viewers have discovered that the streaming platform has given it a TV-MA rating, and so, they are now expressing their outrage and trying to get it removed from the Netflix roster altogether. On August 19, the phrase “TV-MA” trended on twitter, and for the latter, a petition has been started. Curious to know what the fuss is all about? Here’s what you need to understand:

Cuties Controversy

‘Cuties’ is a movie that focuses on a young girl dancing and finding her passion, but more than that, it’s about a traditional child stepping away from her family and values to try and fit into the world by joining a dance group that has been extremely sexualized. The Hollywood Reporter explained that the movie “establishes its critical view of a culture that steers impressionable young girls toward the hyper-sexualization of their bodies.” And, Screen Daily said that it is “explicitly designed to shock mature audiences into a contemplation of today’s destruction of innocence.”

The TV-MA rating means that a program is specifically designed for mature audiences only. It signifies that the content would either include foul language, graphic violence, or graphic sexual activity, or any combination of all these elements. Netflix rarely assigns this rating – which is equivalent to “R” or “NC-17.” This is one of the reasons why ‘Cuties’ got all the more attention. What many on social media are alleging is that the movie has sexualized 11-year-olds and their dancing so much that Netflix had no choice but to limit it to mature audiences only. A coming-of-age movie about kids designed for adults has left the views shocked and extremely disturbed.

While the tags of the movie include, Emotional, Drama, Friendship, Religion, French, audience members have realized the extent of how bad the sexualization can get and have started a petition to have ‘Cuties’ removed from Netflix. It has been gaining massive support, and till now, more than 12,000 individuals have signed it. The headline of it reads: “I want Netflix to remove the new movie Cuties as it promotes child pornography!”

The petition’s description makes the severity of this even more clear. “As we are becoming more aware of the horror of child sex trafficking, and child sexual abuse we need to come together to end ALL forms. One way we can achieve this, is to cancel shows and movies that exploit our children! The movie Cuties shows children dressed provocatively, dancing sexually and is rated only for adult viewers. It was created for the entertainment of adults who are pedophiles. Please sign the petition to protect our children from exploitation in movies.”

Another individual also perfectly summarized the dilemma by simply tweeting: “netflix are you alright? who pays someone to go film young girls twerking.”

You can check out some other tweets about the movie and its rating below:

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