Hollywood is still reeling from Me Too, and the world is marveling at Jeffrey Epstein’s ability to spend years exploiting young girls while keeping elite company, but Netflix thought it made sense to tease “Cuties” with this poster.
Netflix has a movie called “Cuties” about 11 year olds in a twerking dance group. Some of the reviews claim it’s a “commentary” on the sexualization of children but this is the poster. And keep in mind that the lead actress is actually 11 years old. In the film and real life. pic.twitter.com/4p2exeSvXw
— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) August 20, 2020
The lead actress is 11 years old, the same age as her character. The poster depicts her and three preteen friends posing suggestively in barely-there dance uniforms, looking more like Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders than children. It was enough to earn swiftly backlash from some online observers.
Here’s how The Wrap summarized the plot of “Cuties,” which the outlet described as a “Sundance Darling”:
In ‘Cuties,’ an 11-year-old girl from Senegal Amy tries to escape family dysfunction by joining a free-spirited dance clique named ‘Cuties.’ The group stands in stark contrast to her mother’s traditional values, and she soon becomes aware of her own femininity well beyond her years through dance. She soon inspires the girls to embrace more sensual dance moves as part of their routine even as she begins to face the realities of growing up, and they hope to twerk their way to stardom at a local dance contest. (Emphasis added.)
Matt Walsh of The Daily Wire notes that some reviewers argue the film is a “commentary” on sexual exploitation of children, but adds, “My guess is that this is a ‘commentary’ on child exploitation in the same way that a movie like The Purge is a commentary on violence. That is, it really just exhibits what it wants to comment on, and most of the audience is there for the exhibition not the alleged commentary.”
Judging from The Wrap’s description of “Cuties,” Walsh’s assumption is likely close to the truth. Netflix’s own description of the movie reads, “Amy, 11 years old, tries to escape family dysfunction by joining a free-spirited dance clique named ‘Cuties,’ as they build their self confidence through dance.” If “Cuties” promotes “twerking” as a legitimate way for 11-year-old girls to “build their self confidence,” obviously that’s a problem.
I haven’t seen the film, which hits Netflix on Sept. 9, and can only judge the merits of its message from what information is already available. Maybe it’s a valuable commentary on the sexual exploitation of children. Maybe critics’ judgment is premature. I’m dubious, but that still does not excuse the poster, which absolutely sexualizes four young girls, and was blasted out to the entire Internet this week.
The Epstein scandal is not dissipating. This week, the same day he spoke at the Democratic National Convention, pictures emerged of Bill Clinton enjoying a neck rub from the 22-year-old “personal masseuse” of Jeffrey Epstein, whose private jet had just transported the former president.
Just this month, Hasbro pulled a doll based on “Trolls World Tour” that, as the New York Post wrote, “giggles and laughs at the press of a button, which is located between the doll’s legs, where genitalia would be on a person.” See for yourself below.
I’m not arguing that Netflix deplatform “Cuties.” Again, I don’t know what’s in it, and have zero interest in censoring challenging art. (Although there may be a very legitimate question as to whether this film belongs on a mainstream platform.) But it’s amazing that poster made it past Netflix’s corporate leadership, especially as the fallout from the Weinstein and Epstein scandals continues to raise questions about the sexual ethics of Hollywood and our political elites.
There’s no excuse for depicting preteen girls the way Netflix depicted them on that poster. At best, it was a blunder and an oversight. At worst, it was evidence the entertainment industry prioritizes business over the well-being of children, and more evidence Hollywood has a bad habit of sexualizing kids.