Although it only just hit Netflix, Cuties is already facing massive backlash. The French film tells the story of a pre-teen Muslim girl who finds herself caught between traditional Muslim values and internet culture. The film also presents a critique of the way young girls are hypersexualized and features a group of young girls who join a twerking dance group, and that's where the controversy around the movie begins to swirl.
What did IMDb say about 'Cuties'? A user likened it to pedophilia.
The controversy around Cuties has been rampant since the trailer for the movie first dropped. Now that it's on Netflix, many are calling for users to cancel their subscriptions to the service over the film's content. Those calls were only heightened after a content warning was added to IMDb suggesting that the movie could be "lawfully defined as pedophilia."
“During one of the many highly sexualized and erotic dance scenes that purposefully exploit and objectify numerous scantily clad underage girls, one of the female child dancers lifts up her cropped top to fully display her bare breast,” the notice originally claimed. “This is lawfully defined as pedophilia and can be extremely distressing to many viewers.”
The warning has since been removed from the IMDb page about the film.
What 'Cuties' scene is the warning referring to?
There are several scenes throughout the film where the girls at the film's center are performing their sexualized dance routines. Although the movie does depict these routines, it was reportedly done in an effort to critique the way young women are sexualized by an internet culture that ties their value to their ability to look sexy. Cuties is trying to critique the sexualization it depicts, although most of those coming after the movie don't allow for that level of nuance.
Although the IMDb warning may seem alarming, like much of what is posted on the site, it was contributed by a user. In this case, the user who contributed the content warning was someone who found the film's content offensive. The post was eventually taken down, in part because there were many who saw the warning and believed it was coming from IMDb.
The debate over 'Cuties' is worth having, but it's not as heightened as the online conversation.
Cuties has sparked a justifiable outrage over the way young girls are sexualized, but many of those attacking the film don't seem to realize that the film was designed as an explicit critique of the sexualization of young women. It's possible to recognize the fact that that's the film's goal and still believe that its depiction of young women is too sexual, but that's not the conversation that is happening around the film right now.
Instead, those who are attacking the movie and calling on users to cancel Netflix seem to think that the movie is playing into the culture of hypersexualization that it is trying to critique. Cuties should make us all reflect on whether the outrage over the film should instead be targeted at a broader culture where sexualizing underage girls is not just acceptable, but often encouraged.