‘Cuties’: Sen. Ted Cruz Joins Congressional Lawmakers in Threatening Netflix with DOJ Probe
Cuties is the award-winning French film Netflix chose to release on Sept. 9, despite the controversy surrounding its highly sexualized depiction of pre-pubescent girls. Just days after the Netflix debut, high-profile Congressional lawmakers, including Sen. Ted Cruz, called for a Department of Justice investigation and demanded the streamer be charged with distributing child pornography.
What is ‘Cuties’ about?
Originally titled Migonnes, Cuties is a French-language film that tells the story of an 11-year-old Senegalese girl named Amy Diop (Fathia Youssouf Abdilahi) who lives with her younger brother Ismael (Demba Diaw), and single mother, Mariam (Maïmouna Gueye) in a poor Paris neighborhood. After seeing her neighbor Angelica (Médina El Aidi-Azouni) dance, Amy befriends her and join her Cuties dance crew.
As the girls prepare for a dance competition, they perform suggestive moves inspired by the stars they see in popular culture. While many have criticized the film for hyper sexualizing young girls, it is actually meant to be a commentary that condemns it.
Cuties director Maïmouna Doucouré won a Sundance Film Festival Directing Award after the film debuted at the festival in January 2020. When talking to Screen Daily, the filmmaker revealed that she was inspired to write the movie after seeing a local dance show in her old Paris neighborhood.
“There were these girls on stage dressed in a really sexy fashion in short, transparent clothes,” Doucourére said. “They danced in a very sexually suggestive manner. There also happened to be a number of African mothers in the audience. I was transfixed, watching with a mixture of shock and admiration. I asked myself if these young girls understood what they were doing.”
Congressional lawmakers condemn Netflix for streaming Cuties
Soon after Cuties hit Netflix, Congressional lawmakers began calling on the Justice Department to investigate the film and the streamer. Indiana Rep. Jim Banks and Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton told the Daily Caller that they believe the film is fodder for pedophiles and inspires “young girls to defy their parents.”
“There’s no excuse for the sexualization of children, and Netflix’s decision to promote the film ‘Cuties’ is disgusting at best and a serious crime at worst,” Cotton said. “I urge the Department of Justice to take action against Netflix for their role in pushing explicit depictions of children into American homes.”
Se. Ted Cruz of Texas sent a letter to the Department of Criminal Justice, which he shared on Twitter. In the letter, Cruz calls for an investigation into the film and its distribution.
“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 Senator wrote.
Why Netflix chose to stream the film
Despite the controversy leading up to the film’s streaming release, Netflix stands by its decision. In a Sept. 10 statement to Variety, the streamer pointed out the film’s intention and the context in which it should be viewed.
“Cuties is a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” a Netflix spokesperson told the outlet. “It’s an award-winning film, and a powerful story about the pressure young girls face on social media and from society more generally growing up — and we’d encourage anyone who cares about these important issues to watch the movie.”