Maïmouna Doucouré’s film tells the story of Amy, an 11-year-old caught between the traditional values of her Senegalese Muslim upbringing and internet culture which sexualises young girls once she joins a dance group called ‘the cuties’.
While Netflix has said that the film is “a social commentary against the sexualization of young children,” it has drawn criticism for its sexualised depiction of pre-teens – with scenes depicting suggestive dance routines and Amy posting pictures of her privates online.
In a letter sent to Attorney General William Barr, Texas senator Cruz asks the DOJ to investigate whether anyone involved in the film “violated any federal laws against the production and distribution of child pornography.”
“The film routinely fetishizes and sexualizes these per-adolescent girls as they perform dances simulating sexual conduct in revealing clothing, including at least one scene with partial child nudity,” Cruz wrote.
He also speculated that “even more explicit and abusive scenes” were likely cut from the film and claimed “that pedophiles across the world in the future will manipulate and imitate this film in abusive ways.”
His claim of footage being removed from the final cut has since been debunked by Forbes.
In the wake of the film’s release, its detractors have started the #CancelNetflix hashtag — with around 643,000 people signing a Change.org petition pledging to delete their accounts with the streaming service.
In a four-star review, NME called Cuties “a powerful exploration of the way young girls are subconsciously encouraged to perform for the male gaze”.
The review went on: “This is a vivid and very alarming portrait of a young girl struggling to live up to two competing forms of deeply ingrained patriarchy.”