Cuties, originally titled Mignonnes, is a French film that has recently sparked controversy over social media after it’s worldwide Netflix release on Wednesday, Sept. 9. The movie follows 11-year-old Amy (Fathia Youssouf), and her introduction to pop culture and dancing.
At the beginning of the movie, the audience learns that Amy comes from a religious, strict household, and her purpose is to serve her family and make them proud. When her and her family move, she goes to a new school where she meets a group of mean girls that call themselves “Cuties”, and Amy gets pulled into the group.
The group wears short shirts and skirts, and are obsessed with looking like teenagers. This is apparent when they watch a video of a group of teenagers provocatively dancing. Amy immediately tries to copy their moves and ties her shirt up.
The entirety of the movie centers around a dance competition that the “Cuties” are preparing for. They believe that if they act sexual like the older girls, it will appeal more to the judges. During the performance, the judges and audience members look shocked and disgusted, booing them off the stage.
Viewers of this movie had the same reaction. According to Variety, this film’s release led to a surge in Netflix subscription cancellations, and led to a #CancelNetflix trend on Twitter. People were concerned about the oversexualization of these underage girls, and the message it sends.
According to The Washington Post, this was not the intention of Maïmouna Doucouré, director of ‘Cuties’. She observed young girls dancing at a community event in a very risky manner, and decided to look more into the topic. She noticed that on social media apps like TikTok, the more sexually a woman dances, the more likes she gets. This was the issue that she wanted to highlight, not condone, in Cuties.
This movie was very difficult for me to watch. One scene that was disturbing to me was a scene where the girls break into a laser tag facility. When the manager catches them, they dance sexually for him and he lets them off the hook. This to me felt like the movie was condoning this behavior, and made me really uncomfortable.
Another scene that was jarring was when Amy goes to school in a provocative outfit and gets praised by her peers for it. Personally, I believe that this sends out the message to young girls that if you wear revealing clothes, people will treat you better and boys will like you.
I understand the point that Doucouré is trying to address. I have also noticed that the audience on social media apps has gotten younger and younger every year, and there is a lot of mature content that they are getting exposed to. But through making this movie, Doucouré depicts young girls doing the thing that she is fighting against. We have to remember that these are real girls and that they will have to suffer the consequences of being oversexualized at a young age.