Media outlets were abuzz with Netflix’s recent promotion of the French film “Cuties” directed by Maïmouna Doucouré. Cries of “child pornography” were coming from all sides, while #cancelnetflix became the number one trending topic on Twitter, causing Netflix to lose a reported $9 billion. In response to this backlash, Doucouré claims that she wrote the movie to demonstrate the danger of the hyper-sexualization and exploitation of young girls in our society. And while she’s right there, her very attempt to draw attention to the issue actually promotes it.
Now, to be honest, I have not watched the film “Cuties” personally. But even without viewing it, there’s enough evidence to conclude that this film is dangerous.
The story follows an eleven year old girl, Amy, as she adjusts to several life-changing events and does so largely without parental support. So Amy turns to a clique at her new school called “Cuties”. The clique of eleven year old girls is known for their “dance” routines. They teach Amy how to grind and twerk. They teach her how to dress promiscuously, and how to “use” her body to get what she wants. The girls watch pornography and mimic what they see… they post sexually explicit material on social media just to get “likes”…they grind and twerk for two middle aged security men just to get out of trouble…Amy posts a picture of her private parts on social media after being made fun of (her pants are pulled down at school by a fellow student, only to reveal “little girl” underwear)…she starts undressing for a man to get a favor from him (her older cousin, no less)…she tries to take a picture of boy’s private parts as he goes to the bathroom…so I repeat – this film is dangerous.
Yes, Doucouré was right in that we have a problem in our culture. Young, impressionable girls are exposed and in some cases, brought up on social media. They learn that sex sells. They learn how to manipulate men with their bodies. Fight the New Drug just updated their statistic that the average age of exposure to pornography went from 11 years old down to 8. There’s a push in our culture to “normalize” pedophilia and lower the age of consent down to 11. This is a problem. But you cannot fight fire with fire. Trying to expose the dangers of child exploitation by glamourizing it in a movie will only lead to more problems. And did it really expose any of the dangers of child exploitation? Psychologists argue that it only demonstrates to young girls the process of grooming – and not in a negative light.
Over 650 young girls auditioned for the film. Think of that – 650 scantily clad girls dancing and twerking for a group of adults at a casting call. That doesn’t exactly indicate that this is an undesirable movie – girls clamoured to be in a film that various Representatives in the United States have petitioned the Department of Justice to review for child pornography. During its filming, the producers stated that a psychologist was on-site at all times for the young girls to talk to due to the trauma of the subject matter. But that only begs the question – is there not some inherent danger in filming a movie whose contents necessitate the presence of a psychologist?
If we want to change culture, this is not the way to do it. We need to teach our young girls about their dignity, about the dignity of womanhood. We need to teach them about respect. We need to teach them that their value and self-worth does not simply lie in their sexuality – that they are worth SO much more than the few seconds of attention received from a sexually explicit social media photo.