‘Cuties’ screening canceled following backlash from students

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Medina El Aidi (left) and Fathia Youssouf (right) made their acting debut in the controversial French film “Cuties.”

DePaul’s College of Communication decided to cancel the showing of the Netflix film “Cuties,” “due to some negative reactions from DePaul students who felt that the film promoted sexualization of girls,” said Carolyn Bronstein, a Professor of Communications.

The film has received backlash from DePaul students, Netflix subscribers, parents and more. 

After a Texas Grand Jury indicted Netflix, the streaming platform faces criminal charges for lewd visual material depicting a child. 

“I thought maybe people are being dramatic, but then I watched it and then I was like I kind of understand the criticism,” said Ryan Shaw, a senior and film major at DePaul.

“In my opinion, the film is a critique of sexualization of girls in popular culture,” Bronstein said. 

Netflix acknowledges the film as a critique of the sexualization of young girls as well as defenders of the film. 

“The handling of young women and young girls’ sexuality is a hard thing to portray in the media in a way that’s not going to come across as sexualizing them and weird,” said Mila Edwards, a senior and film major at DePaul. 

“Cuties” director Maïmouna Doucouré, intents of the film are depicted by the viewer as she receives death threats from some.

With the backlash from students, Bronstein decided Zoom was not the appropriate forum to hold the discussion. 

“I decided that our current remote circumstances make it too difficult to address student concerns in a personal and thoughtful way,” Bronstein said. She was concerned that Zoom “might not allow for the kind of nuanced, engaged conversation that is needed.” 

The conversation is being had elsewhere. 

“[The director] sexualized kids herself. I don’t think she meant to do it,” Shaw said. “[Cuties] could do without all the closeups of the girls dancing and shaking their butts,” he said. 

A lot of people are actively against the film as #CancelNetflix is a trending tag on Twitter. There are petitions on Change.org to cancel the film on Netflix. 419,108 have signed one called “Cancel CUTIES on Netflix” and there are many others close to reaching their goal. 

The company Antenna reported that the drop in subscribers grew by five times in one day than the previous 30 days in a tweet on Thursday, while Vanity reports subscriptions dropped by eight times at one point. 

“Netflix has a lot of stuff that is controversial. I’m not sure why that was the one that made people cancel their subscriptions,” Edwards said. 

An indictment filed in Tyler County, Texas reads that the film “depicts the lewd exhibition of the genitals or pubic area of a clothed or partially clothed child who was younger than 18 years of age,” according to The Wrap. 

Netflix has not suggested that they plan to remove the movie from its platform. They did however, change the cover image for the movie on the Netflix website. They said they were deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork,” according to The Hill. A lot of backlash was based on the suggested images and not the film.

 The movie itself includes scenes of the girls dancing sexually. 

“We live in a culture that sexualizes women’s bodies especially women of color at an early age” Edwards said. 

The film evidently made some viewers uncomfortable. But there is some truth to the film, according to Sofia Leal, a sophomore communications major at DePaul. 

“Kids want to do whatever the popular kids are doing. I think they can do without the dancing they do,” Leal said.

 Bronstein hopes to reschedule the screening when DePaul is back on campus.

“I definitely don’t think people will like the film,” Shaw said. 

The audience score on Rotten Tomatoes was 15 percent. The critic review however was significantly higher at 85 percent.