If you’re new to this, let me start at the beginning for you, to begin with, the public outcry initially was at Netflix’s seriously questionable marketing of “Cuties” movie poster earlier in August. Now though since the movie was released on 9 September 2020, it turns out it is so much worse than we thought.
AND if you like many thought this was just a hype by the conservatives, that is unwarranted, think again! There are countless reviews by those who thought that too, only to be utterly disgusted by the film, the making of it (camera angles and zoomed shots) and using actual 11year old actresses itself.
I suggest watching the review by The Daily Wire “Child-Sexualising ‘Cuties’ Movie On Netflix Is Even Worse Than We Thought”
OR if you’re automatically jumping to the fact that The Daily Wire is a conservative channel and will give in to the conservative narrative, then watch this review by Patrick Burow “Cuties – Netflix Movie Review” (strong language warning in this one).
The director of “Cuties”, Netflix, even some media personalities and news outlets are calling it a ‘social commentary’ and that it was meant to educate… (I’ll get back to that)
Abuse survivor and advocate Rachael Denhollander, however, tweeted: “One can’t protest sexualising children by … sexualising them.”
I have to agree with her, IF this movie was truly meant to educate consider it a HUGE FAIL! The same message could’ve been brought across without the direct, zoomed-in camera angles, overtly obvious sexualisation of children, and that’s not even mentioning the ethics of using children themselves to play the part in the making of it…
Let’s just break this down a little more though, while I don’t agree or support the narrative of Netflix – it’s not Social Commentary, it’s Child-Sexualisation. It is also a bigger issue, that of our hyper-sexualised society.
The ambiguous nature of sexual exploitation within Western culture explains both the controversy surrounding “Cuties” and the idea of the movie itself. While public outcry and the following #CancelNetflix has been needed, it on its own, misses the bigger issue of our over-sexualised and so normalised society.
Why did you think Netflix thought that their marketing would work? Or that they’d have supporters of the movie anyway? Because society has been desensitised to the sexualisation of children for so long…
The central character of “Cuties” is an 11-year-old, Amy, who longing for love and connection, quickly assumes what Western culture values are and she begins to adapt as such (this opposed to her Senegalese culture). She discovers a new world of smartphones, social media, and hyper-sexualization rewards her for objectifying herself. But she is limited by her age and childhood innocence. Amy does not know where “doing what’s in” ends and where pornography begins. She is exposed to explicit material online and she mimics it and doesn’t understand what is or isn’t acceptable or where to draw the line – since she’s a child dealing with what should be adult things.
Another problem with this movie is that there are no obvious bad guys. No perverts luring Amy over the internet. No trusted family friend grooming her for abuse. Instead, the movie displays the simplicity of evil and how easily a young girl in this society might be exploited by subtle cues and behaviours that exist in the open, sometimes even awed over and deemed “cute”… hello, “Cuties”?
There is no doubt that the exploitation of young girls (and boys) stems from society and its ills, a society where sex sells. Sex does sell, unfortunately, and at some point, the most hardened don’t care WHO is being sold (women or child – with regards to women, let’s not get started on consent, consider the context). Child trafficking is real, and Netflix did market the film in a provocative way. SAD BUT TRUE
Sexualising children and calling it cute is where we’re at people, and the more children who are led to believe that and perpetuate that, the more likely they are to be abused by those who manipulate children’s emotional immaturity by saying, “she looked older” as an excuse. While pedophilia certainly exists, and definitely is a problem here, this movie definitely feeds into it as well. The normalising of pedophilia has been happening for decades, it’s the frog in the hot water. It’s been happening so slowly that it’s not even noticeable, and now that so much has come out into the open or “leaked” recently, from twitter, online forums and so on, we suddenly want to gasp and wonder how this happened… the objectification and sexualization of young girls in Western culture has as much do with our complicity in viewing young girls as women before they truly are, it starts here…
The hyper-sexualisation in our society doesn’t answer why children are sexualised, that’s a whole other can of worms. But we can try to rectify it, we need to let children to be children, and support families and institutions to do so too. Why are we asking kids in primary school to map out career goals. Many, including our very own Department of Basic Education (in South Africa) are pushing relentlessly for Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in our schools, don’t be fooled this is coming from much higher up, the United Nations’ very own UNESCO in fact. This curriculum heavily supports the notion that sexual pleasure should be taught from preschool age, that abortion is healthy and a band-aid solution, risky sexual behaviour, twisted idea of ‘consent’ between children, promiscuity and so much more. More about CSE here. All of this and we wonder how we got here, we too often hurry our kids through childhood.
If we want to truly protect children in a culture such as ours, if we expect our kids “to be the change” and to “raise good people” as many parenting bloggers like myself have written about on Instagram, it will require more than boycotts and posting on social media. We need to disturb and disrupt our own comforts and start making the change ourselves. And it’s not going to be easy, I’ll admit it’s not easy for me to just cancel Netflix, to stop watching series and shows that do not have good values – even the ones that grip you and get you hooked for the “good story” because do we really overlook the “bits” that we don’t agree with in the show or do we get so pulled in that we are desensitised to it all…
We need to evaluate our values, what we consume and what we directly and indirectly expose our children to, this is a much bigger problem than “Cuties” on Netflix, yes cancel your Netflix, but what else in your life needs some trimming, pruning or outright discarding?
PLEASE NOTE: The original article on which this is based is from Christianity Today I have added my own words and extra information in between to form my own view and to add to the original where I believe necessary to get my point across.