There’s some debate floating around about whether or not it’s appropriate to comment on Netflix’s new film “Cuties” — the one about a twerking troupe of 11 year old girls — if you haven’t actually seen it (full disclosure: I haven’t and won’t). Because defenders of the film insist that it actually repudiates sexualizing young girls and is a morality tale about how many underprivileged and immigrant girls lack the resources to keep themselves from being taken advantage of.
So, see the film, they say.
I’ll give them credit: it’s a great selling point. Banning people from criticizing it unless they’ve seen it. What better way to build an audience. But here’s the thing about communication in the technological age: we’ve already seen enough to know if young girls stripper dancing (yes, it’s an unofficial style of dance) and giving come-hither looks is portrayed onscreen. The clips are everywhere. And man, I don’t want to see that, even if the ultimate moral lesson is that it’s a bad thing to do. I wouldn’t watch the video of the Daniel Pearl beheading and I was a daily news journalist at the time. But I saw enough of the video leading up to the actual beheading that I knew good and damn well it would never leave me if I let myself watch it and I couldn’t. What’s more, I didn’t need to. It was horrifying enough in my imagination.
It’s the same thing here. Unless you’re a forensic investigator and you have to watch disturbing child abuse to nail the bastards (sorry for cursing but this stuff makes me mad), you don’t need to feed the click machine to know children who haven’t yet reached puberty dancing like Salome is repugnant. And if you don’t…well, they’ve given you depraved souls something to leer at. And, like the Daniel Pearl video, it’s unnecessary.
The wonderful thing about film is its ability to suggest things without beating you over the head with it. That’s the true art in film. In music. In life, really. Subtlety is difficult and, when done well, makes a better point that just about anything else. Give that a try, Netflix.
I review a different Netflix movie “The Sleepover” (trailer below) because I’m waiting to see if Netflix learns its lesson — totally ok with me to judge that if you want. But I’m hopeful they do. I also offer some thoughts on Project 21’s embrace of the move to “cancel” critical race theory in federal agencies, the anniversary of 9/11 with the backdrop of the historic Middle East peace deal, and whether sports can divorce itself from politics — and how it needs to if it wants to survive.
Bless your ears below.