Stop Demonizing Black Women in Film: A review of Netflix Movie “Cuties”

 

 

Over the past few weeks, I have seen the demonization of the movie Cuties on Netflix. What started as a simple critic of Netflix’s hypersexual cover image and description, has now come to an attack on the director for daring to tell a story about a young African’s journey growing up and understanding sexuality. We can all admit that the way Netflix attempted to market the film is problematic, but the majority of the people who are giving controversial reviews seem to have overlooked the beautiful film that criticizes the hypersexualization of young girls.

 

Cuties is a Netflix film about a young Muslim, immigrant girl named Amy joining a hip hop dance group. During the film, there is a lot of pressure out on her and entering womanhood including traditional gender roles from Senegalese society. Amy joins the hypersexual dance group as an act of rebellion and to try to regain her sense of freedom. During the film, we take a closer look at the girl’s views on womanhood and sexuality through their dances, actions, and conversations. 

 

The director, Maïmouna Doucouré is a Sengalese woman that uses her experience in creating the film. The goals of the film were to help create a film that showed the perspective of young girls and how they interact with social media, particularly in relation to the intersection of womanhood and sexuality. The film is not meant to be something enjoyable, it is made to make you feel uncomfortable and make you question how sexuality is put onto children. During this film, the hyper-sexualization of children is not glorified and rather it supports the idea that children’s youths should not be taken from them.

 

When Doucoure received a critique about the film she addressed in the film in a Washington Post article. “We, as adults, have not given children the tools to grow up healthy in our society. I wanted to open people's eyes to what's truly happening in schools and on social media, forcing them to confront images of young girls made up, dressed up and dancing suggestively to imitate their favorite pop icon.”

 

Something that stood out in the film was how these young girls would view these hypersexual videos online and how they would try to copy what they saw. This is something that young girls often do in American society and yet we either turn a blind eye of ridicule them. This story can speak to many young women’s experiences as children and can help bring to light young girl’s experiences to adults around them.

 

When you are demonizing this film, you are demonizing black stories and black directors. When you’re demonizing this film you are demonizing young girls, espically young black girls. You are making the topic of toxic patriarchy and womanhood taboo. This story does not sexual children rather is focuses on important social ideas and how young children view their youth. This is a story that needed to be told. 

For Harriet came out with a video addressing the topic and I urge anyone who is critical to the movie to check out her discussion on Cuties.