While Netflix is no stranger to controversy, recent backlash against the platform is at an all time high following its decision to be the home of the questionable new film Cuties, which many are calling borderline pedophilic thanks to its focus on the sexualization of preteen girls. It’s led to a very outspoken community rallying to have it removed from Netflix altogether, and now one US senator is stepping up with his own hefty accusations and a call for a federal investigation into the production of the movie.
In tweets sent out over the weekend, Senator Ted Cruz shared that he feels Cuties exploits children and makes money off the sexualization of them. Furthermore, he issued a letter to Attorney General Bill Barr requesting a federal investigation into the film, saying:
The video streaming service and content-producer Netflix is currently hosting a film entitled Cuties that sexualizes young girls, including through dance scenes that simulate sexual activities and a scene exposing a minor’s bare breast. I urge the Department of Justice to investigate the production and distribution of this film to determine whether Netflix, its executives, or the individuals involved in the filming and production of Cuties violated any federal laws against the production and distribution of child pornography.
The film routinely fetishizes and sexualizes these pre-adolescent girls as they perform dances simulating sexual conduct in revealing clothing, including at least one scene with partial child nudity. These scenes in and of themselves are harmful. And it is likely that the filming of this movie created even more explicit and abusive scenes, and that pedophiles across the world in the future will manipulate and imitate this film in abusive ways.
Meanwhile, Netflix has defended Cuties as social commentary, which is precisely what director Maïmouna Doucouré has repeatedly stated that she intended for the movie to be. She’s previously said the goal of the film was to be both a look at some of her personal experiences as a young girl and a wake-up call to the world that internet culture hyper-sexualizes children. Unfortunately for her, however, that message has been drowned out by the negative attention received following Netflix‘s poor initial marketing push, which showed the young cast in skimpy clothing and sexualized poses.
Despite the ongoing controversy, Cuties has been well-received by critics so far, widely being referred to as a nuanced look into modern girlhood and the tribulations that come along with it. It currently sits at 86% on Rotten Tomatoes, though its user score is abysmal thanks to widespread review bombing.