Can our culture sink any lower? I thought we had hit rock bottom when the new Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion song ‘WAP‘ — an acronym for ‘wet ass pussy’ — was hailed as a beacon of female empowerment and critics were labeled misogynistic prudes. Then, Netflix announced it was adding the French film Cuties to its streaming service with a promotional photo that blatantly sexualized 11-year-old girls.
I am normally a vocal opponent of cancel culture, but I am willing to make an exception for Netflix. The Cuties promotion showed pre-pubescent girls in tight spandex with bare midriffs in various compromising positions: one on all fours with her hand on her derrière, another with her back arched and her mouth open in faux surprise, a third squatting with her hands on her knees and her legs splayed open. The disgusting photo sparked immediate backlash from people who rightfully pointed out that Netflix was aiding in pedophilia by allowing young girls to be displayed in such a provocative manner.
Netflix eventually apologized for the photo on Thursday, saying, ‘We’re deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used for Cuties. It was not OK, nor was it representative of this French film which premiered at Sundance. We’ve now updated the pictures and description.’
There are several problems with this apology. First, it doesn’t explain how this photo was produced. Were these stills taken from the film? If so, it’s not accurate to say it is not ‘representative’ of Cuties. Second, the statement attempts to comfort us by assuring that it is ‘French’ and premiered at ‘Sundance’ — meaning we are meant to excuse its exploitation of young girls because it is ‘artsy’. Are we really supposed to feel better knowing that such pedophilic-friendly content is celebrated by the entertainment industry and earned awards for its efforts? If anything, that reveals a much deeper wound in society.
Aside from the promotional artwork, the plot of the film itself is disturbing. Cuties, according to Netflix, is about an 11-year-old girl named Amy ‘who becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew’ and ‘starts to explore her femininity’. The villains in the movie are Amy’s traditional and religious family, who are painted in the preview as oppressive, sexist bigots because they want to protect their young daughter’s innocence. This is a classic trope used by amoralists; they demonize anyone who wants to stop the trend of sexual exploitation at increasingly younger ages, brainwashing children into believing it is empowering, fun, and free to reveal yourself for the entertainment of others. Other descriptions claim the movie is a commentary on the hyper-sexualization of young girls, but that rings hollow. Does anyone really think the filmmakers who spent six months in the casting process viewing 650 young girls doing provocative dance moves are trying to fight over sexualization?
Netflix doesn’t really care about the girls in the film or others like them. If it did, it would have never agreed to stream Cuties in the first place. Remember, this is the same company that showed a graphic depiction of suicide in a show for teenagers, and aired another film that showed a young girl having her first orgasm. Conservatives are often mocked when they warn that our gratuitous sexual culture will come for your children. Some self-proclaimed ‘conservatives’ even downplay the existence of drag queen story hours. I cannot think of better evidence that our families and our children are at serious risk than the ‘entertainment’ being pushed by companies like Netflix.