Column: Netflix’s ‘Cuties’ contains child pornography

Logan Raschke

• Editor’s note: This column contains mentions of child pornography and the sexual exploitation of children, which the author claims is in the film “Cuties.” This material may be disturbing to some readers.

I hope this is the only time I present my viewpoints on a film I haven’t even seen.

No, I haven’t watched “Cuties” (or “Mignonnes”): A French film about the dangers of the sexual exploitation of children as well as the juxtaposition of conservative cultures against societies that encourage youth sexuality.

I refuse to watch it because the child actors in the film were exploited sexually to produce pornographic content for the final cut, which Netflix is still allowing on its platform six days after its Sept. 9 debut.

Outrage began when Netflix released the American poster for the film, containing the four child actors in sexually suggestive poses dressed in revealing outfits.

Additionally, social media users and Netflix subscribers thought the description for the movie was inappropriate too. The original description was: “Amy, 11, becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew. Hoping to join them, she starts to explore her femininity, defying her family’s traditions.”

After receiving a hoard of disapproving posts and comments, many threatening to unsubscribe, Netflix released an official apology on Twitter. The tweet read: “We’re deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Mignonnes/Cuties. 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.”

After its release, #CancelNetflix was trending on Twitter. People realized the poster really wasn’t representative of the French film. The film was much worse.

I’ve seen several clips from the film on YouTube. These clips contained footage of child actors ages 12 through 14 in extremely revealing clothing dancing inappropriately, close-up long shots of children’s buttocks and pelvic areas, these same children slapping each other’s buttocks and encouraging more inappropriate behavior, and children grabbing their own private areas as they dance. This easily qualifies as child pornography.

The clips were extremely difficult to watch until they became impossible to continue watching. I’ve refused to watch more because it has progressed beyond disturbing into harmful territory.

I don’t understand Netflix’s apology at all. How was the inappropriate poster not representative of the film? How could it have been a misrepresentation? The photograph used for the poster was taken straight from the film, as it was one of several sexually driven dances the underage actors performed.

The “Cuties” director, Doucouré, has said that she’s “on the same side” as those who have expressed their disapproval. She said the film actually denounces the sexual exploitation of children.

While I can definitely see the potential this film had at communicating such a crucial issue that girls around the world are oppressed by, the ends don’t justify the means. These girls were exploited.

Doucouré has received so many hateful comments and death threats since the film’s release on Netflix that she has deleted her Twitter account. I do not condone spreading hate or threats to anyone; I think that’s beyond terrible.

This film could have been great. It could have employed adult actors to handle sexual situations that children are not mature or developed enough to understand. It could have completely cut the sexual content the child actors had to participate in.

The director and Netflix claim the movie condemns the sexual exploitation of children. But what happened in the film? Children were sexually exploited.

 

Logan Raschke is a senior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]