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Reader's warning: Some readers may find the contents of this article disturbing.

I want to put something on record. I am disgusted by the film Cuties. Netflix’s decision to screen Cuties is immoral. The producer’s decision to make Cuties is immoral. This is a stoop to a new low in the entertainment world.

I have not seen the movie. I do not plan to see the movie. But I have seen enough. As a father, this film sickens me. Let me explain to you why.

If you have not heard of the film Cuties, it is billed as a coming of age movie. IMDB describes the synopsis: ‘Amy, an 11-year-old girl, joins a group of dancers named "the cuties" at school, and rapidly grows aware of her burgeoning femininity - upsetting her mother and her values in the process.’

The children in the film are aged 11. In the UK it is rated 15. In America it is rated TV-MA - that’s the highest rating in the US, described aged for mature adults aged 17+.

Another review states (emphasis my own), ‘In “Cuties,” an 11-year-old girl from Senegal Amy tries to escape family dysfunction by joining a free-spirited dance clique named “Cuties.” The group stands in stark contrast to her mother’s traditional values, and she soon becomes aware of her own femininity well beyond her years through dance. She soon inspires the girls to embrace more sensual dance moves as part of their routine even as she begins to face the realities of growing up, and they hope to twerk their way to stardom at a local dance contest.’

So, the film is a message against traditional values. This is not a reason for me to put my thoughts on record so explicitly. Most coming of age films are the antithesis of coming of age. Instead of taking responsibility, honouring others and living in purity, they speak of dishonouring elders, getting drunk, and having sex, as if this is the pathway to adulthood.

This is part of a wider conversation on how we help our children enter godly adulthood and it may well be that the film maker's conclusion is that this path is the wrong way and the child should appreciate their traditional heritage. As I said I haven't seen it. But I do know that this film involves an 11 year old girl doing moves so ‘sensual’ that the movie is rated 15/MA. And that’s supposed to be a coming of age movie. It sounds more like a child abuse movie.

I know that statement is sensational but I want you to pause and think for a moment. A child, a minor, was instructed by adults to dance in a sensual, sexually provocative manor for the purpose of art. A child was asked to stand in front of a camera and repeat these moves over and over again as they took different takes of scenes from different angles. Would you let your daughter act in this film? Who was standing up for these children? And who would want to watch this movie?

Sexual abuse is defined not just as a sexual act but also as exposing children to inappropriate material. Were these girls exposed to inappropriate material? (Remember the film rating and that the children were acting out these scenes.)

So, I want to put on record that I am not okay with this.

We work in some parts of the world where child abuse is seen as the normal. Thankfully in our Western culture there is a general outcry against children being sexually abused. But somehow this movie has been celebrated more than condemned. This movie is attributed to causing some to cancel their Netflix membership others have apparently signed up for the purposes of watching this movie. Let that sink in.

Who, after hearing the furore around this movie, would choose to get a subscription to Netflix so they can watch it? Who would view this as entertainment? Who would think it is okay for children to be exposed to this in the filming?

Netflix originally put up images that were deemed unacceptable (the children in provocative adult clothing holding dance poses). The original version released in France had the children shopping. Netflix released this apology on August 20th ‘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.’ They are right. It was not okay. But removing the poster does not change the fact that those children were asked to wear that clothing and hold those poses. I am not okay with that.

Oh, and did you notice that the film won an award. It was celebrated. I do not celebrate this.

Netflix’s response:

Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” a spokesperson for Netflix said in a statement to media outlets on Thursday. “It’s an award-winning film and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up—and we’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie.”

So let me get this straight. The film is against the sexualization of children and it does this by … sexualizing children.

I would encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to pray. To speak up for this generation. To mentor some young people in godliness. Not to sit at home and watch a film that exploits children.

Another reviewer wrote in response to the critics: ‘Thanks to a major marketing mistake, this award-winning French movie has been accused of sexualizing girls. It’s actually a sensitive portrait of growing pains that deserves to be seen.’

Growing pains. 15-rated growing pains.

I was going to write a description of the camera’s focus on parts of the 11 year old girls’ bodies as given on IMDB. But I can’t do it. The thought of children being put through that and then having it celebrated as art makes me sick.

Some will call me a prude or slur me as having traditional values. I don’t mind that. But we must protect our children from this. When we lose sight of what purity looks like our children suffer. I can accept that the wider theme of the movie was of a girl discovering herself, but what did the actors involed discover?

We know the world will get darker as it moves further from God’s best. But at the same time we, God’s bride, God’s body, should shine brighter. Let’s begin in mourning for our society and stir ourselves in prayer before standing together and saying:

"We are not okay with this."


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