An upcoming Netflix film is causing major controversy, especially in conservative faith circles. The film is called “Cuties” and Netflix picked it up after it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival.
The film has been described by the streaming giant as a coming-of-age story about a girl from Senegal. It was directed and written by Senegalese filmmaker Maïmouna Doucouré and won the Directing Award in the World Cinema Dramatic category at the festival earlier this year.
In the film, an 11-year-old girl from Senegal named Amy tries to “escape family dysfunction by joining a free-spirited dance clique named ‘Cuties.’ The dance group is a stark contrast to her mother’s traditional values,” The Wrap reported. The child escapes through dance — twerking to be precise. And that is where the problem lies.
If the dance had been ballet, even hip-hop, the film might not have become a target for the conservative faithful. But twerking is considered highly sensual — even through Doucouré claims the focus of the film is about a young girl discovering her sexuality and feminine voice. Also, many are pointing out that the characters are pre-adolescents.
People tweeted against the film. Curiously, the loudest — and crudest — voices against the film came from men.
The conservative media site the Daily Wire claimed that the film is sexually exploiting young girls. The film “would seem to be much more a display of that sexualization than a commentary on it,” The Daily Wire reported.
A Change.org petition was started to stop the airing of the film. “It was created for the entertainment of adults who are pedophiles,” wrote Kelsi Swift.
This is not how the filmmaker envisioned the film. In essence, it reflects part of Doucouré’s life.
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She grew up in France with traditional parents from Senegal and said in “Cuties” that she explores the question of whether we should “have the right to choose which women we can be in this world.”
“In our culture, even today, I can say I’m not totally free,” Doucouré told The Wrap. “Because I love to wear short dresses and at the same time, when I go to a religious ceremony, I wear a veil. Just choose as a woman: who do you want to be?”
“Cuties” debuts on Netflix on Sept. 9.