How Netflix's Cuties sparked outrage for 'sexualising kids' with scenes showing girl, 11, twerking and 'taking nudes'

IT’S the shocking Netflix film that's sparked a torrent of outrage – with users even calling for the streaming service to be shut down for good.

And while Cuties aims to shine a light on premature sexualisation of young girls in society, many insist it’s taken the message WAY too far.

With disturbing scenes showing 11-year-old girls dressed in tiny outfits and twerking on stage, there are now calls for it to be axed – while the director has even received death threats.

The fictional French film tells the story of 11-year-old Amy, raised in a traditional Senegalese Muslim household, who sets her sights on joining a "twerking squad" at her school, as they compete to win a dance competition.

But as the film progresses, she goes from being the shy newcomer to actually schooling her new friends on some very unsettling choreography – including twerking, bum slapping and finger-biting.

Directed by first-timer Maïmouna Doucouré, the film – which has a TV-MA rating – first sparked anger in August when the American promotional poster was released, showing the girls in mini-shorts and crop tops.


In comparison, the French poster shows the four lead girls laughing and dancing as they hold shopping bags.

In a statement, a Netflix spokesperson said the company was “deeply sorry for the inappropriate artwork that we used”, in response to accusations the cast was exploited in promotional materials – which were later altered.

Here we look at how the film's uncomfortable scenes have sparked such fury…


Pre-teen rebellion portrayed in unsettling scene

Amy, who has recently moved into a Parisian housing estate with her mum and two young brothers, is struggling with turmoil at home throughout the film, as her mother is left devastated by her father's decision to marry a second wife.

All that soon melts into the background for Amy, however, when she spies a young girl her age – who turns out to be one of her future school friends, Angelica – dancing in a tiny crop top while doing the laundry in her building.

It turns out to be the first of many worrying scenes to come.


Grim twerking videos

Fascinated by Angelica and three of her friends, Amy begins to follow the group – quickly catching their attention.

She eventually manages to fit in by stealing a phone off one of her older family members and taking photos of herself pouting for social media – setting a grim picture of the pressure many girls feel to 'fit in'.


Secretly spending long hours online in her room, Amy also starts watching dance videos of adult women twerking and moving seductively in front of the camera – appearing mesmerised.

In a particularly unsettling and sickening scene, Amy watches a video of women in tiny G-strings dance in a club, with several of them twerking up close to the camera.

The video sparks a visible determination in Amy to impress her friends, and she eventually steals a T-shirt off her little brother to wear as a crop top, to match up with their own disturbingly revealing outfits.

Make-up ‘like Kim Kardashian’

The changes in Amy’s character and appearance happen rapidly from there, as she joins the girls in trying to impress a group of boys – with them all pretending to be 14.

The girls then start doing each other’s make-up “Kim Kardashian style”, before a particularly disturbing scene shows one of them innocently pick up a discarded condom from a dirty floor and blow into it.

In a stark reminder of their age and innocence, the other girls run away screaming, before they all club together to scrub her mouth out with soap – believing it will stop her getting infected by any diseases or "germs".


Pranks on online dating sites

Aside from the ever-more-provocative and worrying dances they’re practising together, the girls also dabble in some online dating.

When Angelica sees an older guy pop up, she tries to pretend her camera is broken while sending suggestive messages to him – before one of the girls pranks her and turns the camera back on.

Recoiling in shock when he sees her age, the guy shouts: “Are you serious? Go and play with your dolls you stupid little girl.”

Seeing her chance to impress her new friends, as the prankster is blacklisted, Amy starts teaching them some of the moves she’s watched online – taking them through twerking, finger-biting and more.

The scenes make for uncomfortable viewing, as each of the girls tries to help each other twerk on the ground, while biting their fingers and sticking their tongues out.

Horrifying 'nude pic' scene slammed by viewers

However, the most horrifying scene comes when Amy’s older family member finally discovers it was her that stole his phone, and tries to take it back.

In a desperate effort to convince him to give it back, she begins stripping off slowly.

Clearly shocked and disgusted, the man pushes her away and shouts: “What is wrong with you?”

In a moment that has left viewers disgusted, Amy then grabs the phone and locks herself in the bathroom, before stripping off her bottoms and taking a "nude photo" of herself. Without hesitation, she then posts it online.


Despite being mocked over the picture by classmates, she begins dressing in riskier clothing at school, including some tight leather leggings on one occasion.

However, she is left humiliated at one point when, after picking a fight with another girl, their friends pull down her leggings in front of the school.

This scene in particular has upset many parents on social media, as the camera even briefly shows the young girl in just her knickers on screen.

Shocking final dance routine

The film ends with Amy abandoning her family as they prepare for her father’s wedding and joining her friends on stage in the most shocking outfits so far – tiny metallic mini shorts and crop tops.


The group perform their sickening dance to the crowd, but instead of cheers they’re booed throughout – a stark reminder of how wrong it is.

Finally getting the wake up call she needs midway through, Amy breaks down in tears and runs off stage, before returning to her mum and falling into her arms.

The film ends with her changing out of the clothes and into some normal jeans and long-sleeved top, before playing with her family outside and smiling – finally acting like the child she really is.

Calls for it to be axed

Many viewers have reacted with anger to the film, with a petition for it to be axed from Netflix gaining 600,000 signatures and risking.

And it's triggered a stream of furious comments online too.

“Raise your hand if you agree this is disgusting,” tweeted one social media user, who compared it to child abuse.


"Isn’t this every parent’s nightmare? How did this happen? Who did the direction for this movie. Netflix should better take this Cuties movie down. #CancelNexflix," another critic wrote.


Some, however, are defending the film, claiming it highlights how many girls are "growing up while navigating hyper-sexualized social media culture".

Speaking about the film's intention to Cineuropa, director Maïmouna said: "This isn’t a health & safety ad. This is most of all an uncompromising portrait of an 11-year-old girl plunged in a world that imposes a series of dictates on her.

"It was very important not to judge these girls, but most of all to understand them, to listen to them, to give them a voice, to take into account the complexity of what they’re living through in society, and all of that in parallel with their childhood which is always there, their imaginary, their innocence."

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