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Film-Cuties Controversy
This image released by Netflix shows the cast of the coming-of-age film “Cuties.” (AP Photo: Netflix)

Bar Buzz: Lawmaker says ‘Cuties’ not so cute

Boarding a crowded conservative bandwagon, a state GOP House member is demanding that Attorney General Keith Ellison step in and block distribution of the controversial kidsploitation film “Cuties.”

Rep. Tim Miller, R-Prinsburg, wrote Ellison on Sept. 23, urging him to join attorneys general in Ohio, Texas, Florida and Louisiana in demanding that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings yank the film off his streaming service.

“Let me be clear,” Miller wrote to Ellison, “‘Cuties’ represents an abhorrent attack on children and their innocence. This film normalizes the sexualization of children. This is despicable.”

(It might be noted that in earlier generations, there were those—the British novelist Graham Greene comes to mind—who said virtually the same things about Shirley Temple and her “dimpled depravity.” But we digress.)

The controversial French film, which has an 85% approval rating on the Rotten Tomatoes cinema website, depicts “the intricacies of girlhood in the modern age.”

It is a yarn about an 11-year-old girl whose Senegalese Muslim family lives in Paris. While navigating various family dramas, she gets caught up with a tweener dance group at school, whose members tend to dress and gyrate in age-inappropriate ways.

The movie is critically acclaimed, but even some of its most ardent supporters acknowledge it is a hard-edged portrayal of pre-teen girls amping up their sexuality. RogerEbert.com’s review said it takes the theory of “depiction does not equal endorsement to its limit.”

Miller contends it goes further. “‘Cuties’ blatantly and repeatedly sexualize pre-adolescent girls as they perform dances simulating sexual conduct in revealing clothing,” he wrote to Ellison. “Clearly, this film and its distribution violate Minnesota statues. An investigation should begin immediately.”

Asked for a response Wednesday, the AG’s office didn’t really have one. “What I can say,” said AG spokesman John Stiles, “is that we haven’t received the letter yet.”

A final note: The flap has been good for business. According to the Hollywood Reporter, a Screen Engine poll of moviegoers found that 52% of viewers surveyed said the political controversy over the film was the only reason they watched it.

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About Kevin Featherly

Kevin Featherly, who joined BridgeTower Media in mid-2016, is a journalist and former freelance writer who has covered politics, law, business, technology and popular culture for publications and websites in the Twin Cities and nationally since the mid-1990s.

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