After Netflix announced the release of the film “Cuties” in August, it faced immediate, immense backlash for sexualizing young girls and promoting pedophilia. Artwork that went along with the announcement showed 11-year-old girls with little clothing on, in highly sensual poses. Netflix quickly apologized for the artwork, and a spokesperson told The Daily Citizen that once released, it would be easy to see that the artwork would not be “representative” of the film.
We now know that Netflix lied.
“Cuties” was released on Netflix on September 9, and a clip (warning: highly suggestive and sexual content) of the film shows that the artwork, which rightly upset millions of people, was an accurate portrayal.
One circulating scene shows four 11-year-old girls scantily clad, gyrating and twerking, with several close-up shots of their buttocks. It also shows them grabbing their crotches several times, shaking their buttocks while grabbing their inner thighs, thrusting up and down on the floor and stroking each other’s rear ends.
The Daily Citizen reached out to The Justice Department to inquire whether it would open an investigation into Netflix for distributing child pornography but did not receive a reply as of publishing time.
In a statement to The Daily Citizen following the release of “Cuties,” a Netflix Spokesperson said, “Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children. It’s an award winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up – and we’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie.”
Netflix’s statement to The Daily Citizen in mid-August following the first round of backlash said that Netflix was “deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork” that was used to promote the film. “It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which won an award at Sundance. We’ve now updated the pictures and description.”
The only way the original artwork was not “representative” of the film is that it wasn’t graphic enough.
The film has a TV-MA rating, the most restrictive rating it could receive. TV-MA “signifies content for mature audiences” which are unsuitable for anyone younger than 17 and may include “strong coarse language, explicit (in some cases, pornographic) strong sexual content, nudity, or intense/graphic violence.”
Why does a film unsuitable for those younger than 17 to watch use 11-year-old actresses to depict sexualized, explicit content?
Conservative commentator Matt Walsh excoriated Netflix calling the film “a push to normalize pedophilia.”
“It’s way worse than I thought, and I thought it would be extremely bad. VERY explicit sexual dancing, girls grabbing themselves, crotch shots, etc. These are children… There is a push to normalize pedophilia in our country. That’s not a conspiracy. It’s a fact,” Walsh wrote.
Political commentator Kassy Dillon tweeted that she was canceling her Netflix subscription. “I won’t support a company that is profiting off of sexualizing children. You thought the movie poster was bad? The clips from the movie are 100x worse,” she wrote.
BlazeTV commentator Jason Howerton tweeted that he was also cancelling his Netflix subscription, adding, “I used to dismiss people who said one day people would try to normalize pedophilia. Those days are over. We are an extremely sick society. God help us.”
As of publication, “Cuties” was trending on Twitter with over 117K tweets while “#CancelNetflix” had over 172K tweets.
A petition to request Netflix take down the film has nearly 350,000 signatures.
The film has received a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes from 30 professional movie critics, but only a 4% rating from 578 audience ratings.
Several articles reviewing the film put the blame for the outrage on those who were angry at the film, rather than the film itself.
“Cuties, Netflix review: a provocative powder-keg for an age terrified of child sexuality,” The Telegraph UK wrote.
The New Yorker wrote: “‘Cuties,’ the Extraordinary Netflix Début That Became the Target of a Right-Wing Campaign.”
While some in the media run cover for “Cuties” and try to blame conservatives for being angry at the pedophilic content, two things are clear. First, Netflix lied. The film is worse than many feared after seeing the original artwork. Second, in a highly sexualized age and culture, it’s clear that our collective moral degradation is no longer just an adult problem.
Rather, the sexual exploitation of children has now gone mainstream.
To help your family make appropriate entertainment decisions, visit Focus on the Family’s free media guide Plugged In.
You can follow this author on Twitter @MettlerZachary
Photo from r.classen / Shutterstock.com
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