The normalisation of Paedophilia has been underway in the West for quite some time. We have seen TedX speakers offer sermons on how society is risking the safety of children by demonising and marginalising paedophiles. We have seen how ‘Drag kids’ have become a phenomenon and one of them Desmond is Amazing was spotted dancing at a gay bar in New York while adult men threw money at him. ‘Virtuous Paedophiles’ is actually a phrase that the media is seeking to normalise. However, the most audacious bid on that front is undoubtedly the movie Cuties by Netflix.
Cuties has been at the centre of controversy ever since its posters were first released by Netflix. People had slammed the platform for what was obviously the hyper-sexualisation of children. Netflix then offered an apology, not for the movie itself but for its advertising campaign. The platform had also said it could not comment on whether it supports paedophilia or not.
The warning signs were all there from the very beginning. Its description read, “Amy, 11, becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew. Hoping to join them, she starts to explore her femininity, defying her family’s traditions.” That, too, attracted a lot of outrage. However, its defenders damned those offended by it claiming that they could not criticise a movie before actually having watched it.
Unfortunately for them, the movie has released and it is even worse than we previously imagined it to be, a million times worse. We shall not link the problematic clips doing the rounds on social media as many people are likely to find it extremely disturbing. From the clip, it is evident that such content should never be permitted on screen, regardless of the intent on the part of the filmmakers. However, the mainstream media is continuing its brave defence of the paedophilia content.
The mainstream media often pretends to be the voice of the masses. But time and again, on every contentious issue, they invariably tend to take the stand that the masses stand strongly opposed to. It is all the more clear in light of the movie on Netflix that the media is not a friend to the masses, and in fact, is an enemy towards all values cherished by ordinary citizens.
The Telegraph described Cuties as “a provocative powder-keg for an age terrified of child sexuality”. Quite clearly, the ‘reputed’ newspaper wants people to celebrate ‘child sexuality’, whatever that means. If I were in law enforcement, I would definitely want to pay that critic a visit and everyone at Telegraph, just to be sure.
The New Yorker, too, defended the movie claiming in its review that Cuties became the target of a ‘right-wing campaign’. The implication appears to be that those in the left-wing should naturally defend the content that appears to be paradise for paedophiles since right-wingers are outraging about it. The critic misses the point completely. Paedophilia is not a left-wing or right-wing issue, sexualisation of children is a phenomenon that ought to be opposed by every sane individual.
Others defended the movie calling it a ‘thoughtful coming-of-age drama’. It may be thoughtful indeed, in fact we have no doubt that it is thoughtful, which makes it even worse. To claim that a lot of thought went into a movie that sexualises children is not precisely a good-look for the filmmakers. Again, it ought to be emphasised that the intent does not matter when it comes to content that serves the sexual desire of paedophiles.
Vulture says in its review of Cuties, “The movie was condemned sight unseen by many online, even as those who’d actually viewed the film insisted that it was in no way exploitative. Since then, perhaps unsurprisingly, the anti-Cuties cause has also been embraced by various trolls and conspiracy nuts; I’ve heard from a couple of defenders of the film that they’ve been targeted for harassment.”
“Even so, on the surface, you’d think that this controversy might prove to the picture’s ultimate benefit, turning it from a foreign-language obscurity (the kind of movie that tends to get lost on Netflix) to a must-see flash point. And Cuties certainly deserves to be seen. But it’s also a delicate work that strikes a very careful balance in its portrait of the world, and that balance is upset if a viewer is more worried about social propriety than the truth of lived experience,” it added.
Quite conveniently, Vulture claimed that the movie was a target of ‘trolls’ and ‘conspiracy nuts’ despite the fact that the movie has been opposed by people across the board. It also attempted to evoke sympathy for the filmmakers and defenders of the movie claiming that they had been subject to death threats.
NPR went a step further and claimed that the filmmakers were being criticised for ‘calling out’ the sexualisation of children. It said in its review, “The French film, Cuties, is being praised for its critique of the hyper sexualization of young girls – and the consequences of that – as they rush to become adults in the age of social media.”
It is almost as if these movie critics are living in a parallel universe and have found their way here through a glitch in the matrix. The Independent, too, bemoaned the criticism the movie was receiving and said, “Netflix’s Cuties is too intelligent and moving to be marred by one bad-taste poster”. The poster is the least troublesome issue here, given what the clips doing the round tell us about the movie.
One would have expected the critics in India to be more aware of the problematic aspects of the movie but that was certainly not the case. In their bid to ape the West, Indian critics too appear to have lost all their sense of proportion. The Firstpost review claimed, “Maimouna Doucoure’s debut captures the difficult transition from tween to teen”.
The critic writes, “Watch a two-minute clip or a single representative image, and the chronically angry feel obliged to participate in every debate, and throw in a casual death threat like it were a legitimate form of criticism. Of course, these people have not seen the movie. Perhaps, they never will.” It says a lot about the sorry state of the media, indeed, when they attempt to shame people for opposing the sexualisation of children.
At least, the Firstpost review does acknowledge that it is an excruciatingly difficult watch. It says at one point, “Surveying this minefield will definitely test viewers with low discomfort threshold, but it compels us to question our own gaze.” It concludes with the declaration, “It’s a young girl experiencing joy, freedom and innocence in its purest forms.”
The moral compass of the media appears to be utterly beyond recognition. Instead of recognising the problematic aspects of the movie and its disgusting sexualisation of children, it seeks to blame those opposing it for the controversy. The argument appears to be that the movie actually critiques the sexualisation of children. Sexualising children to critique the sexualisation of children does appear a rather strange way of doing it. As one right-wing journalist correctly pointed out, it is akin to arguing that snuff movies are actually meant to condemn senseless violence.
It is also pertinent to mention here that Cuties has the endorsement of the entire movie industry. It is not surprising given the fact that the movie industry has long been the cherished home of sexual predators and paedophiles. It also received an award at the Sundance movie festival, one of whose co-founders is in jail currently on charges of child sex abuse.
As it turns out, the movie is far more outrageous than previously thought. One of my colleagues watched the movie so you don’t have to. You can read her review here.