WARNING! This article is NSFW!
This article may contain content unsuitable for readers under the age of eighteen.
Cuties (French: Mignonnes) is a 2020 French "coming-of-age comedy-drama" film written and directed by Maïmouna Doucouré in her feature directorial debut.
Eleven-year-old immigrant girl Amy, originally hailing from Senegal, lives with her mother Mariam in one of Paris's poorest neighborhoods in an apartment along with her two younger brothers, waiting for her father to rejoin the family from Senegal. Things turn swiftly as Amy is fascinated by her disobedient neighbor Angelica's twerking( Yes really) clique known as "Cuties", an adult-style dance troupe which has contrasting fortunes and characteristics to Mariam's Islamic customs, values and traditions.
Why It Sucks
- For the most obvious of starters, it uses actual filmed footage of sexualized eleven-year-old girls who also do scripted sexual acts, which is legally considered pedophilia, a serious crime in most countries around the world:
- In one scene, one of the female child dancers lifts up her cropped top to fully display her bare breast.
- An eleven-year-old girl watches a rap music video in which nude women roleplay through sexual dance acts, both heterosexual and lesbian. An eleven-year-old female dance group then mimics these acts via on themselves and on each other.
- When one of the dancers is first seen, the camera is watching her from behind whilst she is dancing in leather leggings as if she were in an Ariana Grande music video; when she turns around, the viewer immediately notices that she is a child.
- The camera repeatedly zooms in on minors' bodies, with, in one instance, the camera glancing at Amy's panty-exposed buttocks after her pair of tight leather pants are forcefully pulled down in the midst of a scuffle between two other girls.
- One girl slaps Amy's buttocks and criticizes them for being flat.
- Amy gets pantsed in public and we can only see her in her underwear.
- One disturbing scene has Amy dancing in just her vest and underwear.
- Amy steals her uncle's phone and posts a nude photo on Instagram.
- In another scene, the girls run into what appears to be a bar and get in trouble with security guards, with the threat of their parents being called; the girls convince them that they are dancers, with Amy "proving it" by dancing and twerking... and the security guard allows the girls to leave.
- The title itself (a direct translation of the original French-language title) is already a red flag.
- The message that it intends to give, that "sexualizing minors is wrong", is rather hypocritical, since the film, as mentioned before, actually comes across as a promotion of pedophilia by using actual filmed footage of sexualized minors. For this message to work properly, they wouldn't have filmed sexualized young girls or them doing inappropriate acts at all.
- Outside of the filmed footage of sexualized children, the acting is rather really poor.
- Even if one can ignore that they contain filmed footage of sexualized children, the dance scenes are rather cringe-worthy to watch.
- The characterization is poor, with Amy doing just about "anything" to fit in, even in an overly-sexualized way; she also stabs a student with a pencil, pushes someone into the lake to the tip as she blankly watches her drown, and scoffs at her own mother after falling down. What pours the salt onto the wound is that she doesn't receive any comeuppance for her actions, and the movie expects the viewers to sympathize with her.
- Angelica is also a generic mean popular girl who is the cause of Amy's unlikeable personality.
- Disgusting cinematography, with the film containing many instances in which the camera literally zooms in on either the rear ends of eleven-year-olds twerking or the bodies of the aforementioned eleven-year-olds.
- Many scenes serve no reason to be in the movie, other than to needlessly pad out the runtime.
- One scene features Amy and her friends doing... duck lips, which is just cringe-worthy.
- During the filming of the movie they had to make over six-hundred and fifty little girls twerk for auditions.
- The ending, despite standing out better than most of the other plot points (see RQ #2), is rather nonsensical.
- The film is also anti-Muslim propaganda, as the Muslim character, Amy, is shown as needing to be "saved" from her religion.
- Misleading poster: The original French poster gives off the illusion that it is a fun, family-friendly film when it could not be any further from the truth.
- It does give an idea as to how young girls are influenced by societies sexualizing of women, but, as mentioned before, it is executed extremely poorly (it is more than likely that Netflix or another party involved in the film lied about this and was using it as damage control).
- The ending twist stands out better than most of the other plot points, as Amy completely gives up both her obnoxiously sexy dancing outfit and the traditional wedding outfit her mother made for her and decides to dress up like a normal French girl.
- Amy's mother crying after finding out about how her husband's polygamy goes further (he is in love with yet another woman), whilst Amy, while under the bed, is crying with her, is emotional. In fact, the plot point about how poorly Amy and her mother are doing without her father could have been a much better idea than the actual main plot.
- Decent soundtrack.
Upon release, Cuties was praised by critics, but received near-universal backlash from audiences, and caused a divide between critics and audiences due to its large amount of sexual content pertaining to minors. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a critic score of 85% with its consensus reading, "A thoughtful look at the intricacies of girlhood in the modern age, Cuties is a coming-of-age film that confronts its themes with poignancy and nuance", while it has an audience score of 13%, though the latter can be partially attributed to review-bombing. On Metacritic, the film has a Metascore of 68/100 based on 14 critic reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews", while its user score is 0.7 out of 10 based on 456 ratings, indicating "overwhelming dislike". Mary Mcnamara of The Los Angeles Times described the film as "a powerful portrait of female rage". On IMDB the movie holds a 3.1/10.
The release of the film gave rise to the #CancelNetflix movement. It has also resulted in a sharp increase in the rate of Netflix subscription cancellations in the United States, as well as a decline in Netflix's stock value. U.S. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri has even called on Netflix to remove the film, while U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas called for the Department of Justice to investigate Netflix. Representative and former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii spoke out against the film as well, tweeting "@netflix child porn 'Cuties' will certainly whet the appetite of pedophiles & help fuel the child sex trafficking trade. 1 in 4 victims of trafficking are children. It happened to my friend's 13 year old daughter. Netflix, you are now complicit. #CancelNetflix". Christine Pelosi, daughter of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, stated that Cuties "hypersexualises girls my daughter's age no doubt to the delight of pedophiles like the ones I prosecuted."
The director of the film, Maïmouna Doucouré has handled the film's criticism poorly, as she not only has defended the film, but even went as far to claim that the film was made to promote feminism and diversity.
Controversy and criticism
On August 18, 2020, Netflix unveiled the international trailer and poster for the film. It received huge backlash worldwide due to the description and the poster allegedly sexualizing eleven-year-old girls, coming across as more of a film promoting pedophilia rather than denouncing it. Even 4chan and other image boards got in on the action and banned stills and footage from Cuties from their sites. The trailer for the film is the most disliked video on the Netflix official YouTube channel. It is also among the 50 most disliked YouTube videos, with 2.2 million dislikes as of 2021.
In response, Netflix redacted the poster and description, stating "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."
The controversy led to Doucouré receiving numerous death threats and personal attacks directed towards her Twitter account, forcing her to shut it down.
In addition, Cuties is banned in Turkey, and is being evaluated in Pakistan, for its explicit imagery. Also, the uncut version of Cuties was banned in Australia, so they had to edit it to get it a MA-15+ rating (the Australian version of the R rating).
After the release of the trailer and film, Netflix lost almost $10 billion in stock. Netflix's renewals decreased, and cancellations increased eightfold. The movie even got Netflix indicted by the state of Texas, citing that the film "depicts the lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 years of age... and has no serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value."
- This film was the topic of discussion among actual pedophiles from the forum Rapey.co (a website infamous for hosting pedophiles, rapists and even murderers) before release.