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Netflixs cuties become the target of a politicized backlash



At the heart of the backlash is the idea that Cuties dangerously and irresponsibly sexualizes pre-teen girls, which, ironically, is what the film itself criticizes as well. The campaign against the film, which includes calls for the Justice Department to investigate it and hundreds of thousands of people calling on subscribers to cancel their Netflix accounts, is riddled with inaccuracies due in part to the fact that some critics don’t haven’t seen the movie (one claims there is childish nudity when there isn’t).

Netflix said in a statement that it was a social commentary against the sexualization of young children.

Written and directed by Mamouna Doucour, Cuties is about an 11-year-old Senegalese immigrant named Amy (Fathia Youssouf) who lives in a poor Paris suburb with her practicing Muslim family. She becomes fascinated by a clique of rebellious girls from her college who choreograph dance routines and wear crop tops and heels. They talk about Kim Kardashian and dieting, twerking, and giggling about boys and sex-related things they don’t understand yet.

Netflix acquired Cuties from the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, where it was rated favorably and won an award for its achievement. This is the kind of film (in a foreign language and without stars from a first-time director) that otherwise would have gone under the radar. But because Netflix’s promotional material grabbed the internet’s attention and even led to the streaming giant’s apologies and posters being taken down, Cuties was rocketed nationwide.

At the end of last week, Republicans Cruz and US Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas asked the Department of Justice to investigate the production and distribution of the films. Cruz in his letter to Attorney General William Barr asked them to determine whether Netflix, its executives, or those involved in the filming and production of Cuties violated federal laws against the production and distribution of child pornography.

On Sunday, in an interview with Fox News Channel, Cruz explained that Netflix makes money by selling the sexual exploitation of young children. Cruz and others have argued that Netflix has a production deal with former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, although neither has any association with Cuties.

Colorado MP Ken Buck tweeted that he and Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs also wanted the DOJ to investigate.

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican, also sent a letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, requesting that the film be removed from the platform pending responses on how the film was made and marketed.

The criticism is not just coming from Republicans. Hawaii Democratic Representative Tulsi Gabbard, in a Twitter post titled Cuties Child Porn, included a photo of the recalled poster and wrote that it will certainly whet the appetite of pedophiles and help fuel sex trafficking. of children.

Netflix, you are now an accomplice, Gabbard continued.

Melissa Henson, program director for the Parents Television Council, said this normalizes the sexualization of little girls, and more than 640,000 accounts have signed a petition calling on users to cancel their Netflix accounts during the movie.

But this time, Netflix doesn’t apologize.

This is an award-winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face in social media and in society more generally growing up and getting married, encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the film, a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement.

Some film critics have also weighed in on the controversy and emphasized the film’s merits.

It would have been easy for Doucour to use a large brush to paint the different extremes of Amys’ experience (stifle bad tradition, dance well), but she doesn’t exactly Footloose here, wrote the film critic of the New York Magazine Bilge Ebiri. Cuties isn’t a blunt screed or a two-way uplifting narrative, which is one of the reasons anyone who watches the film looking for clear messages about right and wrong is bound to be disappointed, if not unworthy.

Doucour was inspired to make the film in part because she saw 11-year-old girls dance as if they were used to seeing in video clips at a rally in Paris and wanted to investigate the reasons why these young girls imitated such adult behavior.

Our girls see that the more a woman is too sexualized on social media, the more successful she is. Children just mimic what they see, trying to achieve the same result without understanding the meaning, Doucour said. It’s dangerous.

Its protagonist, Amy, is at the crossroads of conflicting messages from her family, French Western culture and hyper-real social media fiction, she said.

Doucour encouraged the audience to watch the film without judging this child.

According to Lauren Aronson, a representative of Cruz who said she had not seen the film, the intention of the filmmaker is not the question.

There should absolutely be no room for the filming and distribution of these scenes, Aronson wrote.

But Doucour believes his film is a worthy call to action. And its message seems to have the same purpose as those who bemoan its existence.

We all need to come together to determine what is best for our children. As a director, as an artist, I’m doing my part with this film, she says. Politicians, the education system, parents and children must come together to solve the problems.

Follow AP screenwriter Lindsey Bahr on Twitter:

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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