Cuties; Controversy and A Thoughtout Analysis (Spoiler Warning). Grade: B+
Netflix’s most controversial film is here: A Drama in which won a Directing Award from Sundance. Twitter Folks and News Media Outlets are going BONKERS, as a fair amount of subscribers are now unsubscribing Netflix... We’ve seen this before regarding the TV show Dear White People and the backlash it faced as well. I’m not going to provide a plot synopsis, just going dive in on the controversy as I’ll try make much sense of this film.
I’m not surprised Netflix took a chance on this French film. The film was heavily praised at Sundance and Critics, as Netflix is known to distribute many acclaimed Indie/Foreign films, which why many people like the streaming service in the first place as they choose quality over quantity. The Backlash from people makes sense, when you watch the trailer it’s obviously very disturbing just how these young girls are dressed and how they dance on screen. It also makes sense because the way human beings view films, as the partake in films for entertainment purposes only, as they don’t really watch films as the art form they are, as well as they don’t go out of their comfort zone as they try to think about what the film maker is trying to say. Due to the toxic nature of Cancel Culture, I’m stunned Netflix stood their ground and still was able to release this... They honestly respect their film makers, I really don’t see any other company doing what Netflix did.
The ole saying of Don’t Judge a Book By It’s Cover, is now translated to Don’t Judge a Film by It’s Trailer. Cuties is a film in which basically has a clear message, of what happens when young children get expose to a fair amount of media outlets such as YouTube, Social Media, and Chat Rooms where their parents are either unaware of what their child does online or basically doesn’t provide any supervision whatsoever.
When it comes to media outlets: We are exposed to so much, that it's somehow unbearable to realize just how all of this is catered to all ages?! Though YouTube does sometimes have age restrictions on some videos, but majority of their videos anyone can watch their videos, in which can show explicit content regarding videos/music. It's kind of ridiculous in a way, because here's a company that puts an age restriction on Kanye's Wash Us in the Blood video, a song portraying that we wash our sins in the blood of Jesus, as Kanye exposes just how fake the news is, how he's against murder in anyway. Yet this company allows all ages to watch and listen to WAP by Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion, an extremely explicit sex song, mainly expressing a woman's private part in graphic detail... Does this male any logical sense?! Of course not. Same thing goes with Social Media outlets, mainly Twitter. The amount of explicit content Twitter allows, can be comparable to the likes of an amateur porn site... Again: All Ages Can Access this. In life with every Cause, becomes an Effect. When a child is exposed to this content, as they don't think much of anything due to the fact their young and haven’t properly mature yet, as their mom/dad hands them the phone as their free to go through the internet freely, what do you think happens?!
Their young minds aren't developed enough to understand how wrong this stuff is, especially at their age when they should never think or hear any of this, so they don't think much of what their seeing/hearing, so they believe this is normal so they develop these unhealthy habits down the road. It's gotten to a point where the phone has become a dangerous device, when it comes to our youth: If you don't allow them to have access to a phone consisting of basic internet, or have proper supervision and discipline when they use the phone or even the computer... Your child is going to end up like the children in this film, which is what the film maker is obviously trying to say.
One scene in particular stands out, as our lead character Amy (Fathia Youssouf) steals a phone, as she's free to do whatever she wants as nobody is supervising her correctly. She watches a music video, as much older matured women are singing and dancing, as they twerk, do other sexualize dance moves, and even a nip slip is out. As Amy is getting acquainted with these girls involved in this dance group, who dress as if they’re older, as it's clear as day the girls lack of supervision from their own guardians. Amy then on teaches these girls how to Twerk and do these other extremely foul dance moves along the way, that should never be performed by children. Again that comes with cause and effect. Amy doesn't think much of it, because the way these girls dress and act, make it feel as it's just normal. They see girls from the music video so freely to dance and dress like them, so they don't think much of it as they do the same. If there was proper supervision from the guardians of the children, if Amy's mother was aware of what's going on with her child, as well as Amy and these girls weren't exposed to unhealthy forms of media as these girls are way too young to be exposed to... None of this happens, I don't know just how people missed the entire point in what the film maker was trying to say.
Does the film maker go though extreme measures to het her point across: Absolutely. But I can understand why the film maker made it this way, as she wanted to deliver a wake up call to the audience. Parents NEED to do a better job in raising their children. We didn't have this problem way back when, because children back then didn't have open access to internet through a phone, as they weren't exposed to so much unhealthy explicit content that can damage any young child's mind. Children were occupied in toys, card games, board games, sports, friendly PC computer/video games... You know: Stuff that was made for children in order to grow up in a healthy matter, as now a days their handed a phone as parents don't think much of it, other than shutting them up.
For some reason people think this is a film in which is suppose to be a friendly coming of age story. It perhaps is a coming of age story as it does bring out a theme of self identity as well, however I didn't find it cute at all, because the film maker had no intentions to do so in the first place. When the girls are dancing whether it be rehearsing or in the competition, you're not suppose to adore these girls, you're actually supposed to feel uncomfortable. I mean we are shown shots from the crowd at the competition, as though there are some people clapping, we also see adults completely appalled by what's going on, shedding their eyes of their own children. The Film Maker was not influencing young children to partake in what goes on here or wasn't making trying to be cute. The Film Maker was exposing the harsh truth of just how damaging this stuff is and how it'll bring on a terrible impact on young children if openly exposed, as well as influencing Parents to take a great amount of caution in how they parent, because in due time if they stay lackadaisical in their parenting skills... You'll see more of this.
Spoiler Warning: By the end of the film, we see Amy taking on a route in which will lead her to an unfortunate future. Other than Twerking, wearing loose clothes, and using foul language... We also see Amy partaking in violence, as she pushes a young woman into the water, almost drowning as Amy can proceed in performing in the competition. As Amy performs at the competition, I believe she does notice the audience reaction as it appears Amy has woken up to reality. She then stops performing as she runs back home, completely ashamed of herself as she cries hysterically at home. While her grandmother is basically slut shaming her, her mother tells her that's enough, as she forgives Amy for her many wrong doings. The film is not justifying the young girls actions, the film is basically showing just how confused Amy is, as she lost total control of who she was and partaking in all these actions in which a young girl should never take is wrong. As when Amy realizes what’s she’s become: She’s Completely Embarrassed, letting her family down, more so losing herself in the process. The mother is forgiving because she knows it's not completely Amy's fault, it's somewhat the mother's fault, as she was unaware what has been going on with her daughter, unaware she had a phone, as well as the mother being occupied with other things going on in her life. Other than the mother feeling terrible on her own behalf, she also sets a better example than the grandmother, as slut shaming in not going to change or help the situation at hand. What Amy's mother needs to be in this situation is being a mother, she knows Amy is in the wrong as she can clearly see she's taking responsibility for her own actions, even though it's more on her mothers fault, but in difficult moments like these where we need to be a parent first, as her mother will take proper actions going forward.
Also this is a common theme when it comes to even young adults: They want to be an adult so badly, yet they should only focus on being a kid and growing up along the way. The last shot in the film is very important, as it shows Amy in proper clothing, jumping rope as she's smiling heavily. It's basically telling the audience to let kids be kids. Kids should not be growing up with a phone in their hand, free lancing the many horrors in which the internet holds. Kids are meant to be care free in a healthy suitable matter, partaking in activities fitting for a kid, as kids can just be kids.
Despite all the controversy this film has received: I really liked Cuties. A well shot film, really good performances across the board, really good story that has a great amount of things to say impacting how we parent and how we should make a change on this unhealthy culture we're representing, and lastly great directing by Maimouna Doucoure. I'm hoping to hear any response from Maimouna regarding the controversy at hand, hopefully she'll respond in a respectful matter as I hope all her intentions towards making this film, correlates to what I just tried to analyze here. The most important thing: I hope all these children were taken great care of during the making of this film, I also hope they were aware of what they were signing up for as well, as I don't want to see anyone go through mental health issues down the road. The importance of the children, their well being, and their mental health should always be the main priority, I'm just hoping things will be just fine moving forward. If things all go well for Maimouna as she clears the air on the controversy as she appears not to be a shitty person, as critics and Sundance certainly enjoyed this film... I do hope she makes another film in the future, as though a bold debut... This is a really good film maker, so I hope she's a good person at the end so we can get a new film out of her.
Overall, Cuties is a pretty good film. I do recommend this film, may not be for everyone as this an ambitious bold film, currently stands at a pretty nice spot on my best films of the year list as of now. Well hopefully this explained analysis will make people understand this film much better. You're not a terrible person for watching this film, you're not a saint for not watching this film. At the end of the day: We can all agree that Covid-19, The Whole Mask Ordeal, This Election Year, and Today's Society has all contribute to forming into one Major Migraine. God Bless you all. -Mitch Smietana