"Cuties" on Netflix

The director had an op-ed in the WP yesterday, giving her side of the story. Among other things she says is that people’s discomfort with what they’re seeing is kind of the point:

Some people have found certain scenes in my film uncomfortable to watch. But if one really listens to 11-year-old girls, their lives are uncomfortable.
We, as adults, have not given children the tools to grow up healthy in our society. I wanted to open people’s eyes to what’s truly happening in schools and on social media, forcing them to confront images of young girls made up, dressed up and dancing suggestively to imitate their favorite pop icon. I wanted adults to spend 96 minutes seeing the world through the eyes of an 11-year-old girl, as she lives 24 hours a day. These scenes can be hard to watch but are no less true as a result. Like most 11- and 12-year-olds, our actors in the film had already seen these types of dances and more. Despite this, during filming we were extremely mindful of their age. A trained counselor was present on set.

I’m largely on her side, while acknowledging that Netflix screwed the puppy with their marketing.

Okay, so I’m not a personal that gets caught up in “think of the children!” moral outrages. I’m probably the last person to do that sort of shit. But this doesn’t appear to be that. I haven’t seen the movie, but I watched the youtube video review/demonstration linked above.

There’s no reason for these extended, highly sexualized dance sequences that take up a huge portion of the film. Attacking the cultural ideas that involve the sexualization of children by showing them and the consequences is a fine statement to make. But you do not need to dedicate tens of minutes in the film to filming close up crotch shots and ass shaking by 11 year olds to do this. You can absolutely get to that point with non-gratuitous, non-extended scenes that show the sort of sexualization at work. You don’t have to fucking lean into it and make extended close up child twerking videos for fucks sake.

How is the extreme gratuitousness supposed to reinforce the message? “We don’t think you’ll understand if we show kids trying to be sexy in if we film it in a limited, tasteful way and then focusing on the consequences of that. We need you to get that camera in there right up in that kid’s crotch and have them shake it at you for 5 minutes so you really know what we’re talking about.” Bullshit.

It’s clearly meant to titilate. The posing, the camera angles, all of it.

Look at it this way: let’s say you’re a pedo (or some sort of avant garde artist) who wants to basically make a legal child porn movie under the guise of criticizing the culture. Wouldn’t the movie you made end up looking pretty much exactly like this movie does?

But it’s not just the marketing, no matter what her intentions were she still made a film that is only going to be watched by pedophiles.

Seen a few clips. They are horrifying. Will withhold opinion on the movie since I have seen it and have no desire to see the whole movie, but those clip are bad, and I hope they were cut.
Or fake.

It’s like making a movie on why robbery is bad and then actually robbing people. And claiming that was the point to make the viewer uncomfortable and decry robberies.
No, people will be well in their rights to think your real purpose was get hold of some of those people’s stuff.
Same here.

I’m not a paedophile, and I’m still going to watch it, just like I watched Kids and similar movies.

I fully expect to cringe in parts. I’m a father of kids in that age range. Hell, I cringed in Little Miss Sunshine.

Exactly. “It’s art, man” only goes so far.

I wonder how many people upset about “Cuties” have a similar level of outrage for the dance team at their kids high school. I’m not a prude or anything, but I was taken aback to see teens in tight booty shorts and crop tops doing suggestive dances as part of HS routines at games and pep rallies. I think it sends the wrong message about sexuality and body image to teens, both boys and girls. It’s no mystery why dressing that way creates more interest in the dance team, but that normalizes that level of sexuality at that age. I feel that things like those teen dance routines do more harm than a movie like “Cuties”.

And I think this is exactly the debate the film is trying to start. Focusing on the movie itself seems to be missing the point.

All of it is bad, and the complaints have been made since before the days of Jon Benet Ramsey. We have a culture that normalizes the sexual objectification of women and girls. There is only so many times a person can scream about this before they become hoarse, but that doesn’t mean no one has been screaming about this.

I don’t know if I’ve become more prudish in recent years, but female sexual objectification seems to be getting worse. If I have to see one more clickbait ad reminding me of the existence of fake breasts and ass meat…

Pretty bold assertion there.

Then they failed utterly because they made it impossible to do anything but focus on the movie itself.

Some positive reviews.

I haven’t seen the movie, but it seems that the people who are complaining are unable to deal with complexity in a movie.

Controversy aside, “Cuties” is a difficult and challenging film, pushing the idea of “depiction does not equal endorsement” to its limit. It will not surprise me to read responses still accusing the movie of what it condemns. However, Doucouré uses these uncomfortable images to provoke a serious conversation about the sexualization of girls—especially regarding girls of color, the policing of a girl’s sexuality, double standards, the effect of social media on kids, and how children learn these behaviors.

The scenes in which Amy pretends to be a sexually aware woman — apparently filmed with great sensitivity — are painful to watch, and they should be, not because she is aping mature sexuality, but because she is in such pain that she feels she needs to. The inappropriate sexualisation of children is not a comfortable thing to see, and it shouldn’t be, but it is worth asking, amid the moral panic: what is cinema for?

Eventually Amy is given succour — she is heard — and she turns back into a child. I can’t remember a film about a female child of this age so pitiable, or true.

Slightly off-topic but does anyone know if the boys on Pen15 were under 18? There’s one particular scene with on-screen heavy petting between a HS boy and two women in their 30’s. I was a bit grossed out.

Obviously not as extreme as an 11 year old but say the boy was 16? Would the dopers here feel comfortable with that?

A person I know, much more sexually liberal than me (not that it is vey hard) watched it and said something in the way of “It has a powerful message about girls, empowerment, family, abuse, sexual discovery, and all that shit, but it has so many unnecessary scenes that sexualize actual girls that the message is lost” He gave it 3 /10.

The “three way”? Watch it again. Never do you see all three faces at the same time. Probably body doubles when shoat from the back. And when the boy’s face is visible, you don’t see his hands make any contact.