Content warning: This article addresses pedophelia, racism and misogyny.
Sex sells, no matter how much the world wants to deny its incurable desire for vices. The sexualization of the industry has always been at the forefront of controversy and contentment all at once by sexually-charged music and music videos, literature, film and other forms of entertainment.
Despite this, the world’s moral disparity between sex appeal and the innocence of children plays a peculiar role that was pushed past its breaking point with the promotion of the French film “Mignonnes,” also known as “Cuties,” by Netflix.
“Cuties,” a coming-of-age film, explores the life of a young Black girl who has an “ignited awareness of her burgeoning femininity” by joining a neighborhood dance crew that directly challenges her family’s conventional values through the group’s “increasingly sensual” choreography. The film received relatively positive reviews at Sundance, which resulted in Netflix buying the film’s rights for distribution and promotion.
Netflix incited a social media frenzy after the movie platform presented a poster of young girls posing suggestively while dressed in revealing clothing along with an equally suggestive description of the film. Although Netflix formally apologized, many people have petitioned to remove the film from the platform and cancel its release.
The film’s rollout evoked many controversial matters to rise from the surface, such as the issue of pedophilia, due to the film’s unsettling rating of TV-MA by projecting the stories of minors to an adult audience. Another issue that dwelled beneath the surface was the effect of misogyny towards these children and their story being taken out of context by Netflix and angry petitioners across social media sites. Along with misogyny on a wide scale, many have overlooked the fact that the film highlights the viewpoint of a Black girl, ultimately bringing the perspective of misogynoir (the term applied to misogyny against Black women coined by feminist Moya Bailey).
Misogynoir’s history traces back to the beginnings of slavery and the stereotypes of Black women on plantations, particularly the Jezebel (the highly seductive and submissive temptress). The pressures of these expectations placed upon Black women are increasingly stressful, intimidating and destructive, due to the fact that not all Black women fit into these narrow boxes. The tricklings of this notion have played a significant role in the plight of Black women through comedic purposes, warped body image and higher thresholds of perfection by societal standards.
Although the celebration of sexual liberation is gaining significant traction, one must contemplate the innocence of a child like a gem that is worth protecting. Children are highly impressionable individuals and will most likely imitate something that they have seen to be trendy.
Due to social media’s hypnotic influence on children, the preexisting predatory notions of men and other factors, there is much pressure for girls to act older than their age and be seen as sexual beings prematurely.
Nevertheless, the over-sexualization of minors, particularly Black girls, must be taken into account when the situation is presented. Our society must allow girls the chance to grow up and experience the simplicity of childhood and wholesomeness on a balanced level.