‘Cuties,’ courtesy of Netflix
Without a doubt, COVID-19 has devastated the world and forced millions into quarantine. Many used to view quarantining as if we were to live in a zombie apocalypse. But now, our days are consumed by television– specifically Netflix.
In the summer of 2020, Netflix, a leading production company, released ‘Cuties,’ a French film directed by Maïmouna Doucouré. ‘Cuties’ essentially handles the intersection of a traditional Muslim upbringing and modern internet culture, as portrayed by the narrative of a young immigrant named Amy who creates a dance group to defy her family’s values.
A basic plot summary may sound harmless, but the launch of ‘Cuties’ has spurred so much controversy that 656,207 signatories have demanded Netflix to cancel their subscriptions. This is all due to claims suggesting that ‘Cuties’ promotes the sexualization of young girls.
Scenes of young girls wearing revealing clothing and performing provocative dance moves are frequently presented throughout the film. Senator Ted Cruz commented on the ‘Cuties’ controversy, revealing, “There should be absolutely no place for the filming and distribution of these scenes — regardless of the purported objective of the filmmaker.”
Like-minded with Cruz, the public has averted to ‘cancel culture’ or online shaming. ‘Cancel culture’ has emerged as a common practice of withdrawing support for public figures and companies and even humiliating them. In addition to the many subscription cancellations and #CancelNetflix campaigns on Twitter, people have been publicly shaming and calling out Netflix through the media for its inappropriate content associated with pedophilia.
In defense, a Netflix spokesperson has spoken up about this raising issue: “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.”
There are many arguments within this controversy. One is that ‘Cuties’ is a masterpiece, just amplifying the defiant message of the film with revealing appearances of the cast. On the contrary, accusations of pedophilia and fetishization have put Netflix at war with the infamous ‘cancel culture.’
Yes, quarantine has encouraged many to spend their time watching Netflix. While some would expect Netflix to be doing especially well during this season, data and the media reveal otherwise.