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Who stars in 'Cuties' and why didn't parents stop them? Questions galore as Schaefer asks to probe Netflix film

Republican Texas lawmaker Matt Schaefer has asked the state’s attorney general to probe the Netflix movie for alleged possible violations of child exploitation and child pornography
UPDATED SEP 11, 2020
'Cuties' (Netflix)
'Cuties' (Netflix)

Netflix is in hot waters amid pressure to remove the film ‘Cuties’ over the alleged sexualization of underage girls. On September 10, Republican Texas lawmaker Matt Schaefer asked the state’s attorney general Ken Paxton to probe the Netflix movie for alleged possible violations of child exploitation and child pornography. Schafer wrote on Twitter, “I have asked Texas Attorney General Paxton’s office to investigate the Netflix film 'Cuties' for possible violations of child exploitation and child pornography laws. #CUTIES #txlege.” 


Who stars in the film?

The award-winning French film was released in France on August 19, this year by BAC Films and globally on September 9 on Netflix. It stars Fathia Youssouf, Médina El Aidi-Azouni and Maïmouna Gueye in the lead roles. Other roles are played by Esther Gohourou as Coumba, Ilanah Cami-Goursolas as Jess, Myriam Hamma as Yasmine, Mbissine Therese Diop as the aunt, Demba Diaw as Ismael and Mamadou Samaké as Samba.

Maimouna Doucoure poses at the Netflix premiere of "Cuties" (Mignonnes) during the 70th Berlinale International Film Festival Berlin at Zoo Palast on February 22, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. (Getty Images)

Since its release, French filmmaker Maïmouna Doucouré's directorial debut drew critical acclaim and won the Directing Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival. It portrays the story of an 11-year-old Senegalese Muslim girl who joins a dance group and “rapidly grows aware of her burgeoning femininity — upsetting her mother and her values in the process,” as per IMDb. 

Objections to the film

As we reported on September 10, #CancelNetflix began trending on Twitter as users expressed their outrage at the streaming service for not removing 'Cuties' from its platform. Earlier, people have raised objections over the content of the movie that showed four pre-teen girls dancing in a suggestive manner. People were also enraged after IMDb's parental warning marked the movie as “severe” in the list and reportedly said that some scenes are “lawfully defined as pedophilia.”

As per Variety, the conservative advocacy group Parents Television Council said in a statement “that the TV-MA-rated film sexualizes children.” As per PTC, the young female actors were trained in highly sexualized dance routines, were given lines with “foul, vulgar language” including f**k, and were made to wear revealing clothing. 

After Schaefer asked for an investigation on the content of the film, social media users slammed the film, asking Netflix to 'cancel' it. Many users are concerned about the film's depiction of young girls. Some even raised questions about how the parents of young actors could allow them to be a part of this film. Journalist Josh Caplan tweeted, “Texas State Rep. Matt Schaefer asks Texas AG Paxton’s office to investigate Netflix movie 'Cuties' for potential violations of child exploitation and child pornography laws.”


An enraged user wrote, “I know we are all mad at Netflix but can we take a second to talk about the parents? They didn't see anything wrong with that?” 


Another concurred and wrote, “Exactly, I've been saying the same thing. I can't understand what it takes for a parent to let their children be exploited like that. Many of the child stars of the 80s and 90s had problems growing up because of the game, yet their roles were nothing like this. Imagine the impact.” 


Meanwhile, a user simply wrote: “They saw money and fame.” 


Some vouched to cancel the film. “Netflix better cancel Cuties by the time I return from vacation if it’s goodbye $.”


Another went on to urge users to cancel their Netflix subscriptions. “I need everyone following me to CANCEL their Netflix subscriptions. Hopefully someday we can return, until then they need to immediately remove the disgusting ‘Cuties’ that sexualizes children.” 


Another user wrote, “Good point, but here is a few more:1) From what I understand, this film was made in France, where the age of consent is 15. 2) Pretty much every childrens' dance competition in the country looks a lot like this. The movie 'Little Miss Sunshine' barely scratches the surface.” 


Petitions are also being shared to cancel the film on Netflix. “Netflix: Cancel CUTIES on Netflix! - Sign the Petition! via @Change.”