If you’ve heard of Cuties on Netflix, then I’m sure you’ve heard about the Cuties controversy – it sexualizes children, it’s a pedophile’s dream, cancel Netflix. As an ex-CPS worker, I’m sensitive to the over-sexualization of children, so I’m wondering why TikTok is still a thing, but that’s another discussion. After watching Cuties, I disagree with Netflix’s marketing of the film, because they missed the point of the film, but I also have to question whether people who are mad have watched the film. Should kids watch Cuties? That’s a big no from me. But should adults watch it? Here’s what parents need to know in this Cuties Parents Guide.
Cuties Parents Guide
When I first watched the trailer of Cuties, I could feel my blood pressure rise and my disdain grow. My first impressions watching young girls twerking were that they were being exploited. Then I started to see reactions from people on Twitter who had seen the movie at Sundance and comment that this wasn’t the movie they watched. So I had to see for myself.
From director Maïmouna Doucouré, a French-Senegalese film director, Cuties is about eleven-year-old Amy who lives with her mom and younger brother, awaiting her father to rejoin the family from Senegal. Amy is fascinated by her wild neighbor Angelica’s “free-spirited” dance clique named “Cuties”, a group that is a sharp contrast to how she was raised in dress, attitude, and behavior. Even after they bully her, Amy wants to be accepted and convinces them to use even more provocative dance moves for a local dance competition.
Those dance moves are what has caused the outrage, but that’s not even the worst of it. Cuties is rated TV-MA for language, sexual content, and truthfully, it’s disturbing to watch. Is Cuties ok for kids? Here’s what parents should know before they let their children watch Cuties.
I watched in French with English subtitles, so you can either read the language or switch the audio to English. But there is a lot of profanity like bit–, fu–, a–, bullsh–, slut, whore, etc.
Here’s where Cuties is not appropriate for young children. There is very suggestive and sexualized dancing where 11-year-olds are twerking, essentially humping the ground, making provocative faces with their fingers in their mouths, slapping themselves and each other on the butts, and more.
However, in other situations, one girl takes a picture down her pants to post on social media. You don’t see her actual body part. In a music video the girls are watching on a computer, a high school girl pulls down her shirt to expose her boob.
In another scene, the girls dare a girl to record a boy in the bathroom peeing in a urinal and she does it. Though you don’t see past the wall.
The girls make references to rape. One girl finds what she perceives to be a balloon, but it’s a condom, and she blows it up, then the girls scream and tell her she probably has AIDS. The girls also discuss oral sex.
Another scene shows a girl stab a boy in the hand hard with a pencil. And a girl pushes another girl into water and the girl can’t swim, almost causing her to drown. A parent slaps a girl. There are situations of bullying and calling people names. One character throws a rock and hits a girl in the head causing her to bleed.
Should Adults Watch Cuties?
As a parent, I get the message that the director is making, and I think it’s an important one. Doucouré said, “My one message would be that childhood is precious and we all have to protect our children,” she told Shadow and Act. “We all have to come together to figure out what is best for our children so that we can give a beautiful space to our children to grow up safely and peacefully, so that they can have the freedom to choose who they want to become and the best version of themselves.”
However, in this film she didn’t protect the actors that had to portray these scenes. They’re horrible and disgusting to watch. I felt sick to my stomach. I don’t want to have to google to try to find out if the actress who exposed herself is over 18 or if I’ve just been a witness to child pornography. For the greater good, do we need to exploit the children in the film?
As a critic, I’m mad that she spoon-fed these scenes to the audience. Maybe it was shock value or to have people pay attention, but you don’t have to make scenes so paint-by-number to get the point across. Let the audience get what they want from the images you’re portraying. And they really didn’t need to be so graphic to be impactful.
Plus, the movie itself is boring. Aside from the shock value scenes, it’s a long, slow build to the ending scene, which was beautiful, but not worth the wait. Once again the end scene left little to the imagination.
Parents, if you’re outraged by the trailer, then watch the film. Get even more outraged at what’s going on in society. Even if you don’t agree with the methods, what’s going on in society for these young girls is happening. Those same disgusting dance moves? Your 11-year-old girls are doing them on TikTok. I know, because they’re friends with my kids, and follow me, and I’ve seen some of them.
We’re allowing society and friends tell these impressional young girls that your worth is based on likes and the more sexual you are, the more you’ll be accepted. That being said, no adults or even peers condoned the behavior outside of the Cuties group. That is one thing I appreciated about the film. Even some older boys were disgusted that such young girls were trying to act like they were older.
Netflix was wrong in the way they marketed this film. Do I think Cuties was made for pedophiles? No. I think it was made for parents and society, but in an erroneous way that missed the mark. Let the Cuties controversy be a wake up call to parents. Fix what’s in front of you first. Pay attention to what’s happening to your own kids and start with your own home. And the rest of the world, let’s change the culture and pressures we put on these tweens.