Why You Shouldn’t Cancel Netflix over Cuties (Mignonnes)

[Image: Netflix] Medina El Aidi (Angelica) & Fathia Youssouf Abdillahi (Amy)

Cuties (Mignonnes)

Cuties (Mignonnes) is an award-winning French film written and directed by Maïmouna Doucouré.

It tells the story of an 11-year-old Muslim girl who just moved with her family to France from Senegal. At her new school, she observes an energetic group of girls dancing. Eager to fit in, Amy makes friends with them and quickly learns their modest dance moves. They want to enter a dance competition and Amy is convinced that adding provocative choreography like the kind she has seen in music videos will help them win.

Controversy

You may have heard about the recent backlash on social media with thousands of people urging others to join them in canceling their Netflix subscriptions because of the film’s content.

Suddenly, everyone was calling the film pornographic due to scenes with sexually suggestive dance moves (“twerking”). They were worried that the movie, rated TV-MA for mature audiences, would attract pedophiles.

Many others took offense at the film’s promotional posters.

While the poster for Mignonnes (the name of the film in the original French version) shows 11-year-old girls laughing and smiling after an apparent shopping spree, the poster for Cuties features the same 11-year-old girls posing suggestively and wearing revealing clothing.

My thoughts

No need to cancel your Netflix subscription over this film. Don’t judge a film by its promotional poster.

The way I see it, the film does not endorse the behavior; it’s only a small part of the bigger story of how we try to shape our identities in order to fit in.

The suggestive dancing scenes are brief – no more than a total of 3 minutes throughout the entire film, which has a running time of 96 minutes.

The provocative dancing by young girls is one thing. But I’m more troubled by other things in the film. For instance, there are depictions of child neglect, gun violence, playing dead, physical violence (hitting, pushing, slapping), bullying, body shaming, bulimia, voyeurism, catfishing, stealing, and lying.

I wasn’t expecting any of those things, but I’m glad I decided to watch the contentious film anyway. I’m also glad I decided to watch it with my own 11-year-old daughter.

While there were a few scenes — including one involving a selfie — that made us gasp in shock, my daughter told me that she liked the film’s message in the end: you don’t have to change yourself just to be liked.

One thing is certain. This film will spark challenging discussions, especially between parents and their children. How can that be a bad thing?

More information

Cuties (Mignonnes) received the Directing Award/World Cinema Dramatic at the 2020 Sundance International Film Festival & the Special Jury Mention at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival/Generation Kplus.

Watch the Cuties (Mignonnes) Trailer here.

Watch the “Why I Made Cuties” interview with Maïmouna Doucouré here.

7 Comments

  1. I’ve heard of Cuties from its controversy and some of my friends who’ve watched it. The film sounds intriguing, but I am hesitant to watch it because of its sensitive themes. But I do agree with you that it shouldn’t be “cancelled,” as I believe that one should give it a chance to watch it before drawing their conclusions on the film’s intentions at hand.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree that people should give it a chance. If they find themselves uncomfortable at any point, they can always stop watching. But to cancel Netflix entirely because of one film? How extreme! I mean, how will they watch Emily in Paris without a subscription? 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Well I watched it. The level of sexuality is disturbing for kids age 11. It scares me to be aroused by it one day. I am afraid we all have that urge deep down to crave the forbidden. I think it is a subliminal act against purity, to have these innocent children displaying their assess and what’s between their legs so kinkily. I am sure millions have fallen to the temptation of masturbating to these lil kids. God help us.

    Like

    1. I hear you. If they choose to watch, it’s definitely a film that young viewers should watch together with their parents or other trusted adult guardians. It’s important to have conversations about the behaviors shown in the film and discuss why they are problematic. Thank you for your comment.

      Like

  3. I haven’t yet watched “Cuties”, although this movie is right up my alley. I forgot about it and now reading this blog post has remind me about this movie! I was still living in France when it came out and from my experience, this movie wasn’t such a controversy in France. I feel the negative reactions are fruit of cultural differences. A lot of French movies depict the youth of certain people in a very crude way (“Shéhérazade”, for example), which I believe is the case for “Cuties”. To me, probably to French people too, it doesn’t denote from French cinema. Also, no offense but I think people who immediately went with the “it sexualises young girls!” discourse lacked media literacy. There’re many layers to that story that are just ignored by this kind of judgement. I completely relate to your point of view on this movie! Plus, the fact that you watched it with your own daughter illustrates the importance of movies like “Cuties”: we need more portrayal of youth in its more vulnerable state, so our pre-teens and teens don’t feel weird for not living in a world of butterflies and sunshine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading and for your thoughtful comments. It was interesting to hear that this film wasn’t so controversial in France! I agree, we need to make sure that young people don’t feel weird; they should not feel the need to act differently (as the characters did in Cuties) just to fit in.

      Like

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