Today i’m going to be giving my thoughts on the controversial film cuties.
Cuties (2020) Film Analysis | And My Opinion
Cuties follow Amy. An 11-year-old girl is struggling to understand her place and purpose in society. Torn between the teachings of her Muslim heritage and the hyper-sexualized versions of women she finds online. Amy tries to find out what it means to be a woman.
There are plenty of enraged people reviewing this film online on both sides of having watched the film and having not watched the film. I have not and will not watch this film. But i don’t think that devalues my analysis of it because i have done my research. I know the plot and i have seen images of those scenes which are causing the controversy.
I will not watch this film for two reasons
- One because i already understand the message that it was trying to convey and
- Two because i do not wish to give my support to filmmakers who did not consider the implications of choosing to film, their young actresses how they did.
With regards to my first reason the target audience for this film is primarily parents. The parents who may not be aware of or have considered the extent of the access, which their children have to inappropriate media online. When i was growing up not so long ago the main fear of the internet, which was at the time only accessible via a computer, is that children would be able to look at ineligible videos. This is still a relevant concern but the number of children that have access to the internet has grown massively; thanks to the creation of smartphones.
There is also the rise of social media that allows content to spread quickly and gives mostly uncensored access to billions of people’s lives. The kids of today are in far bigger danger of seeing something that will influence them negatively. One of these things is the hyper-sexualized portrayals of women. Content that supports the idea that the sexier you are or act the more people will like you.
The director of cuties try to make a film that comments on these issues as well as exploring how religion in many ways has not adapted to this new societal norm. Reading about the plot and about Amy’s journey of discovery was heart breaking. In the best way i can tell how powerful the story is. But then comes my second point as important as the director’s message is.
It was simply not delivered correctly. I want to compare cuties to another film birth of a nation. If you haven’t heard of it, it is widely considered Hollywood’s first blockbuster and depicts the American civil war. The issue with it is, that it is sickeningly racist and glorifies the ku Klux clan. Now in the context of its release in 1915 i understand why it did not get the cancel culture treatment that it absolutely deserves and would receive if it was released today.
Consider how many African Americans could actually afford to go to the cinema at that time. Very few and how many of those would have risked their necks, quite literally to speak up against birth of a nation. Even fewer with that in mind. It astounded me that when i googled this film one of the first articles that comes up is one with the title the worst thing about birth of a nation is how good it is.
The imdb rating for this film is 6.3 out of 10 and on rotten tomatoes the tomato meter reads a whopping 93 fresh. When you search cuties on YouTube amongst the reviews and interviews there are multiple videos of people having cut together just the inappropriate scenes from this film. They have hundreds of thousands of views.
In an interview the director says that cuties puts up a mirror to society and boy has it. Because the existence of these super cuts shows just how toxic online culture has become, and how quick people are to try and profit from the controversy of this film.
In the comment section of other people’s analysis videos, i have repeatedly seen the comment of how cuties over sexualizing its actresses to make a point about over-sexualisation is, akin to killing someone to show the negative effects of murder. This comparison i feel is a little moot point as there are plenty of examples of film characters getting killed off in order to convey an important message or highlight social injustices.
If an actor was to be killed on set then then that would just be murder. That said the stark comparison does serve the function of showing just how deprecating these scenes are to the film’s overall purpose. I can accept the historical significance of birth of a nation given its context. When a filmmaker makes a film 105 years after that after so many instrumental changes have happened in society and in cinema itself. Then i cannot accept this film where not one of the people involved thought to speak up enough to say this is too much.
This is damaging to our young actresses and contributes to the problem that we are seeking to help resolve. There are so many examples of films that explore horrible childhood experiences. But with tasteful cinematic trickery and by using the power of association.
I can think of a number of ways cuties could have improved these scenes by the way they shot them. For example they could have had the girls see this inappropriate video. The girls don’t need to actually watch it you just see them seeing a phone screen you hear the music being played as the audience member. And then when they come out on stage and they play the same music. They can only show the audience’s reaction to the dancing and will know what’s actually happening without having the girls do it.
Another idea is to have the girls come out on stage, match cuts to adult actresses doing the dance and then match cut back to the girls. There’s so many different avenues they could have taken.
In both of those examples my point is that they could have achieved the same thing without hyper sexualizing their young actresses. I have previously reviewed feel the beat which is another Netflix film and also features a dance competition. That film is more about the adult protagonist and her journey. But it still involves young girls and dancing. One of the main competitors of the group do have these bold definitely influenced by pop culture moves. But the filmmakers just did not film them inappropriately.
Cuties had so much potential in bringing this call to action attention to this important cause. Instead it’s contributed to the problem itself. Perhaps the effect is big enough that it will force people to act and make a difference. I truly hope so because as it stands all this film has done is harmed the film industry and thrown its young actresses into the worst spotlight possible.