Cuties film accused of sexualizing children

(Submitted: Netflix)

French film Mignonnes (Cuties) sparked backlash over its marketing in North America. The poster and trailer showed children performing sexual dances. While people raged on the internet against the Sundance-nominated film, most hadn’t seen anything beyond a trailer.

The film was written and directed by French filmmaker Maïmouna Doucouré, who took inspiration from her real-life experiences growing up in France with Senegalese parents, living in two different cultures. But on Twitter, people were threatening to cancel their Netflix subscriptions over her film.

Laura Kabbash is a Ph.D. student taking clinical psychology at the University of New Brunswick. She said that people might miss the nuances of the film if they only see the trailer.

“Trailers are meant to excite people,” Kabbash said.

Cuties was added to Netflix on Sept. 9 after receiving praise from critics, but the public didn’t buy into the film. The first red flag for some was the poster released in North America showing children making sexually explicit poses. The original French poster had no sexual content present.

Kabbash said the issue of women being sexualized is part of the movie, but not the main theme.

“The film [ignites] a reaction in order to make people have a discussion about what’s going on in society and how young women are presented with many sexualized images,” she said.

Some found the critique of sexualizing girls was undercut by showing girls twerking and performing provocative dances. Nick Ferguson, a New Brunswick Community College Moncton student, said he didn’t see Cuties, but saw the posters and the trailer.

“I can understand why people would be absolutely appalled by the content,” said Ferguson. “You could argue ‘Oh, it’s just dancing’ but it’s right there [in your face],” he said.

Ferguson said that if the film is supposed to deconstruct how the sexualization of girls is frequent in society, the message should’ve been explicit.

Kabbash said Netflix might have picked up the film because of the critical aclaim from Sundance.

“I think that once people watch the entire film, they might be a little more in tune to the nuances that are present.”