If you have been around social media lately (September 2020), you have probably seen the movie movie “Cuties” get caught under heavy fire lately. People going so far as to scream “CHILD PORN!” with this movie. Having watched it this evening (and being a sexologist), I wanted to give my two cents on this movie.
For starters, it’s about a young girl (eleven years old) named Amy who comes from a very traditional Islamic household. In school, she has a friend who loves to dance. She gets involved with this dance group and Amy finds herself watching provocative music videos featuring young women (who look to be in their twenties) dancing provocatively and wearing nothing but lingerie. Inspired by these music videos, she shows the moves to the dance group so they can learn it for a dance competition. Amy starts dressing less modestly (crop top that shows cleavage, tighter fitting shorts, etc.) around the school and outside. She posted on social media a photo of her genitals and it ended with a guy smacking her butt at school, she stabbing his hand with a pencil in retaliation and then the school calling her mother to let her mother know what happened at school (the full story). Enraged, her mother slaps her. Whenever the dance competition rolls around, it shows audience members interested and disgusted (the disgusted ones being what looks like mothers and some young women in the audience) with the young girl’s very sexually charged dancing. There’s also a scene where Amy dances provocatively in front of a laser tag studio owner. Amy gets mad when (i think it’s her uncle?) an older male sibling tries to take his cell phone back from her — she thinks she can try to give him a blowjob to get the phone back but the man angrily pushes her away and tells her to knock that off.
To me, nothing explicitly in this movie can be seen as “child pornography”. There is a scene where a young woman (I am assuming she’s in her early 20s, the movie is not clear on her age) exposes her left breast to a camera, but again, there is no clear age stating the age of this woman. The dance clothes show mid driff, cleavage, and are tight short shorts. However, many dance competitions (of all ages for children — kids, pre teens, teens, hell even infants in some cases) show rather questionable costume design choices in regards to how much skin is being shown.
I feel the main outrage from this film is the same reason why the older film KIDS (1995) got such outrage — parents and adults didn’t want to deal with the harsh reality that is growing up. In today’s eras, it’s children being constantly bombarded with very sexualized imagery (I mean, for heck’s sake, we have a song titled “wet ass pussy” as a top billboard song in the USA). Children (anyone 17 and under I will define this as) are constantly seeing barely clothed women dancing in very sexual ways on TV and YouTube with music videos. Children are always seeing bikini models sell burgers and other unrelated items for advertising purposes. Children watch porn (the youngest I have personally witnessed a person watching porn was around age 11 via overhearing my guy friends talk about what porn they watched at age 11 while passing them in the hallway). I have memories of being in 2nd grade (so around age 7–8) distinctly of a conversation where one of my friends who was a girl thought the word “pussy” meant “cat” — she had no idea classmates were referring to genitalia.
I can understand parents and adults wanting to scream “NO” and close their eyes, cover their ears when it comes to anything remotely sexual and minors. However, the reality is, we are constantly sending mixed signals. “Show skin but not that much skin! Show you’re an adult but don’t do that because that makes you a slut!”
Cuties show this in a very well done way. It shows the harsh reality that 11-year-olds are living in now (especially for young girls). They don’t want to be considered a “little kid” anymore, so they copy what the adults around them are doing, but then get in trouble for “being a slut”. Talking about sex and sexuality is awkward for many people, but this movie really does show how easy it is for kids to access this type of media and how they end up looking up to the people in these videos.