Capitalizing on CUTIES


Madison Crumpton

CUTIES, a recently released movie on Netflix, has caused quite a stir on social media. Parents and influencers across the country have sparked a huge debate, is this “okay”? In today’s society, are we tolerant of this (Photo courtesy of Madison Crumpton)?

Mild-pedophilia in CUTIES. Is this something that families sit down and watch together, or is it used to help convey a message? This is a question many people are contemplating right now. It seems as if the community has come to a consensus, and the answer is no, not at all. Netflix has released a movie called CUTIES- which has already had several controversies despite being released on September 9th, 2020. Families across the world are pondering the real message conveyed by this movie. 

“I think that culture does not necessarily influence how fast we grow up, but how we grow up. If you think of our generation versus past generations… we have had different things that we experience,” said junior Leah Johnson. 

The movie is claimed to be about a group of pre-teen girls who face the struggles of their lives and the world’s pressures, all while dancing it out. This description doesn’t sound too bad, except this is not what the movie is focusing on. CUTIES focuses on sexualizing their young actresses in a way that is grotesque and unnecessary. How can you say a movie is condemning the practice of hypersexualization and the pressures of “growing up too fast” when in reality, the movie is endorsing it? When touchy subjects like this come about, it makes sense that people want to drive the point home, but when does it become too much?

“When movies convey messages like this [of hypersexualization], it creates a lot of tension in our society,” said sophomore Zander Ollis. 

CUTIES is a french movie directed by Maïmouna Doucouré. Netflix bought rights to the movie to release it internationally, starting the first controversy. It is not unusual for marketing companies to use different types of ads, posters, trailers, and such to gain the attention of the audience that it is projected to. This is a marketing strategy used to appeal to certain viewers more than others. In France, a poster of the girls was advertised where they are seen frolicking in bright clothes with shopping bags, confetti, and underwear on over the top of their clothes. This does make sense as a poster used for a “coming of age” movie. However, in America, the poster released by Netflix was of the girls in tight, revealing dancewear and compromising poses for the eleven-year-olds. 

“Both of [the movie descriptions] sound like they think [exploitation and sexualization] is a good thing. They’re saying that she should rebel against her conservative family, like being conservative is bad,” added Johnson.

Of course, Netflix changed the poster that they were promoting in America. But Netflix’s marketing team was hit with another blow- the movie description. The original description read, “Amy, 11, becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew. Hoping to join them, she starts to explore her femininity, defying her family’s traditions.” Parents and subscribers alike went crazy when they realized that the streaming session had once again tried to sexualize these underage girls. Netflix apologized to the twitter community for its insensitivity of the poster and description. The poster was changed to the same poster advertised in France, and the summarization now reads, “Eleven-year-old Amy starts to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew.”

Here, side-by-side, are the two posters Netflix used to market the movie. On the right is the original picture that Netflix marketed in America. On the left is the poster marketed in France and the poster that was shown in America after Netflix received severe backlash. The difference in the marketing focus is drastic and very apparent (Photo courtesy of Deadline). (Deadline)

“I think it is very important to experience things for yourself but keep in mind what you were brought up under,” said teacher Rosemary Abercrombie.

Despite having corrected their errors, many felt that Netflix’s actions were simply not enough. Demands for the movie to be removed quickly began to pile up. Petitions to remove the movie hit media platforms everywhere, even before the movie was released in the United States. The petitions range from a few single signatures to hundreds of thousands just on a single petition platform. 

“You should grow up knowing what the world is like but also knowing that it can be corrupt,” Johnson told the Bengal Beat.

CUTIES has caused so many mini-scandals in such a short time that it is almost unreal. The director of the movie has received mass amounts of death threats, and people have used the hashtag #cancelnetflix in hopes of creating a movement where people boycott the movie and streaming service for promoting hypersexualization and child pornography, and even past President, Barack Obama, is being dragged into this mess. Both Barack and Michelle Obama share a production deal with Netflix and are now facing backlash for being “silent” during this whole ordeal. Some people have even gone as far as to draw connections between Donald Trump owning Teen Miss USA, which is also a form of exploitation. 

“Those little girls are exploiting themselves in a way that is not appropriate for their age… I don’t think it’s necessary,” stated Abercrombie.

Although the Director and Netflix claim that this movie has a bigger purpose and condemns these practices that everyone is saying they commend, it is very hard to recognize and accept. The movie itself is rated TV-MA and has several questionable and controversial scenes. Scenes  include but are not limited to the girls trying to record a boy using the bathroom, telling that same boy that he could grope them, a fight scene, the lead character trying to undress in front of a boy, the lead actress taking a picture of her private parts and posting them on the internet, and of course what the whole movie is centered around, provocative dancing.

“Culture can influence you in a positive way, but it can also be negative,” added Ollis.

Overall, this move is and will forever be a major culture shock. It has opened the eyes of many people of all ages. The neverending controversy known as CUTIES has struck up questions and serious conversations. What do we deem acceptable as a society? At what age is it “okay” or “normal” to be sexualized? Are we as a society rushing the younger generations to “grow up”? Are we comfortable letting our kids grow up under the pressures of the world that we place them in? While this movie is seen by most as inappropriate in almost every way possible, some can agree that this movie was needed as an eye-opener in today’s world.