Netflix’s film ‘Cuties’ rose to infamy online a few months ago after massive backlash and accusations of containing pedophilic content. The fictional movie follows the journey of a tween dance group, but several scenes throughout it left viewers feeling disgusted.
It often showed the underage girls in sexual and compromising positions, as well as contained several innuendos about pedophilia. The movie’s trailer on YouTube has a whopping 2.2 million dislikes and only 85,000 likes. It also led to the viral "#CancelNetflix" hashtag, in which hundreds of thousands of customers claimed to have ended their subscription to the streaming service.
However, the controversy seems to only have helped the success of the film. ‘Cuties’ has now found itself on the shortlist for the 2021 Academy Awards. France’s Oscar selection committee chose it and five other films to submit to the category of Best International Feature. While this doesn’t make it a shoe-in for an Oscar win, it certainly puts it on the right trajectory.
The takeaway from this is clear—no publicity is bad publicity. The outrage of millions across social media heightened the visibility of the film to a level that the director likely never could have predicted.
How does this reflect on our society, though? What does it say about the state of the world that a movie which blatantly and brazenly sexualized its underage actresses can become such a massive hit, receive Oscar buzz, and completely evade any type of censorship? Streaming apps like Disney+ routinely censor old cartoons that may contain racially charged content in the fear that it will offend viewers, so how exactly does Netflix get away with something like ‘Cuties’?
Unfortunately, a precedent is now set and the bar for outrage clicks has sunk even lower. The success of ‘Cuties’ will likely lead to other directors making similar content, especially if it manages to walk away with an Oscar.