On Wednesday, Netflix releases “Cuties” (“Mignonnes”), the remarkable first feature from the French filmmaker Maïmouna Doucouré. Unfortunately, the platform’s misleading advertising has given rise to a scurrilous campaign against the film itself. The promotional image, showing young girls in bikini-like clothing dancing in provocative ways, matched with an inaccurate description, has been taken to suggest that the film celebrates children’s sexualized behavior. In fact, the subject of the film is exactly the opposite: it dramatizes the difficulties of growing up female in a sexualized and commercialized media culture. I doubt that the scandal-mongers (who include some well-known figures of the far right) have actually seen “Cuties,” but some elements of the film that weren’t presented in the advertising would surely prove irritating to them: it’s the story of a girl’s outrage at, and defiance of, a patriarchal order.
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