Cuties’ creators miss mark on messaging

written by BY MORGAN MILES, guest writer
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Recent Netflix release, Cuties, misses the mark leaving many disappointed as it fails to accomplish one if its primary purposes: demonstrating the exploitation and oversexualization of young girls in modern media.

With as much criticism as the movie Cuties has received, I felt compelled to watch the movie in order to build my own perspective. Our society has created an exceptionally easy path to quick, negative judgement, ending in the term deemed “cancel culture.” 

So, does Cuties deserve the attack it’s been receiving from audiences or authorities such as Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.)  who has called for the movie’s removal from Netflix? Here’s what I think.

Our protagonist, Amy, is introduced as a girl constantly taking care of her siblings and pressured into being her culture’s perfect woman: modest, complacent, religious. From the get-go, noticing that Amy is unhappy isn’t difficult. 

The audience begins to question whether Amy wants to live this kind of life. However, the movie doesn’t provide much time to ponder that vital question before it switches to Amy’s relationship with the group who calls themselves the Cuties.

Family and culture is turned into a B-plot. This is one of the biggest mistakes the Cuties production team made for the movie. Every time there’s a scene of Amy’s emotional struggle, the creators hardly left enough time for the audience to connect with Amy or even allow her to navigate what’s going on in front of the camera. Instead, the creator’s rely on her presumed character growth to take place behind the scenes. 

This isn’t a necessity but would provide less time for unneeded provocative dancing by underage girls and more time for Amy’s character development. Speaking of underage girls, Cuties has 13-year-old girls acting as 11-year-olds. 

At first, the movie is innocent, showing Amy as a little girl missing out on her childhood. However, as the film continues and as Amy and her friends grow, there is an uncomfortable amount of zooming in on their butts and crotches. The camera focuses on their ‘dance moves,’ like spanking one another or quite literally dry-humping the floor as if they were practicing the WAP dance.  

I believe the scenes of provocative dancing are 100% those our society entices young women — or even little girls — to post. But these disgustingly up-close crotch shots turn an important message for our generation and its posterity to follow into, simply, sexualization of children.

Amy begins to lose herself to a newfound world of gross attention from older people, social media and the “Cuties” themselves. She’s lonely. She’s desperate. And the desperation to fit in or escape or whatever motive exists proves  enough for Amy to succumb to sexualizing herself to the benefit of absolutely no one. 

You want to sympathize with this prepubescent girl, who  upon beginning her period, feels an  expectation to be a woman from both her mother and auntie. At the same time, she is told to not act sexually, like the women she observes through the media. For that she is slapped and deemed a whore. 

All of these these personal moments tackling Amy’s relevant problems are replaced and tarnished by the Cuties trying to win a dance competition and continuously bullying one another about appearances or talent. As a result,  there’s little effort to look  into the morals or societal pressures or emotional trauma going through Amy’s mind.

The producer had intentions to push (though she failed) the way we hypersexualize women and spread poisonous ideas to developing children, but inevitably failed to do so.  

Many movies or TV shows present uncomfortable realities to their audiences or have plots with underage teens.These differ from Cuties in the sense that there’s no real life use of the message to go against it. Actors and actresses are often far above the age of the role they play — think Riverdale or Pen15 — which are two common, easy ways for the art of film to convey serious, dark subjects without performing illegal actions. 

Cuties used real 13-year-olds, showed them dancing suggestively up-close, and ultimately tried to combat hypersexualiation within our society by sexualizing minors and calling it “feminism.”