Indictment for “Cuties”

The national FIPRESCI section of the USA informs:

Statement by the national society of film critics regarding the grand jury indictment of Netflix for the film Cuties

The members of the National Film Critics Society wish to condemn the recent action taken by the District Attorney in Tyler County, Texas, with respect to the grand jury indictment of Netflix for “promotion of lewd visual material depicting a child.” This indictment, which is utterly baseless, is an example of political grandstanding related to the French film Cuties (Mignonnes, 2020), by award-winning writer-director Maïmouna Doucouré.

The indictment states that Cuties has “no literary, artistic, political, or scientific value,” which is legalese for pornography. This charge is absurd on its face. Cuties, which focuses on the experiences of a young Senegalese girl living in France, is a feminist examination of the oppressive roles available to young girls in the modern world. The protagonist, Amy, is torn between a restrictive, traditional Muslim family that demands supplication from women, and a clique of prepubescent dancers, anxious to replicate the hyper-sexualized behavior they see in YouTube videos and club culture.

Doucouré’s point could hardly be clearer. Young girls in contemporary culture are treated as objects of lust on the one hand, and denied their own sexuality on the other. The grand jury indictment, ironically, replicates the exact conditions that Cuties aims to criticize. By calling the film smut because of how someone might hypothetically watch it, the Tyler County D.A. insists that a frank consideration of girls’ sexuality is, in itself, dirty.

More significantly, we of the NSFC believe that indictments such as this, which are ultimately publicity stunts, could nevertheless have a chilling effect on free expression in the United States. For this reason, we feel it necessary to register our condemnation. 

Liz Weis
Executive Director
National Society of Film Critics