For the past month, #cancelnetflix has been trending on social media. Why? It all comes down to a new French film titled Cuties. (A grand jury recently issued an indictment against Netflix because of this film. Read about it here.) I read many of the reviews, but one of the curious things that I noticed was very few people writing about it had actually watched it. Now, I realize that we don’t always have to watch everything in order to condemn it. I’m not going to sit around and watch porn so I can verify that it is in fact smut. But with as much attention as this cultural phenomenon was receiving, I made a decision that I knew would sit on my stomach like a lead sandwich. I watched it. All. Of. It. This is what we at Mama Bear call “taking one for the team.” We research so that you don’t have to (and no, I don’t recommend that you watch it.)
This film has been on my radar since seeing the controversial movie poster with scantily clad tweens and a plot summary that sounded like every parent’s worst nightmare: An 11-year-old girl defies her conservative upbringing and joins a free-spirited twerking dance crew as she discovers her newly budding femininity. What could possibly go wrong? An 11 year-old twerking dance crew? What could possibly go wrong? And yet, we can't just #cancelnetflix. There are way deeper issues that we are ignoring. Click To Tweet
There was outrage all over social media, and rightly so because the movie is as nauseating as you could imagine. What bothered me, though, is that while everyone raged against the pedophilia undertones, they seemed to have missed the broader issue, namely what is going on in our culture that culminated in the making of the film? Some very real issues took a backseat to the more knee-jerk #CancelNetflix fallout. Let’s take a look at some of those issues that may have been overlooked.
1. This isn’t just a Netflix issue, it’s a cultural (worldview) issue.
We can’t fix this problem by #CancelNetflix alone. We have to go after the cause: a broken worldview. One way we can do this is by asking a simple question, “Why do you believe this is wrong?”
As tempting as it is to light the proverbial torches, the problem with Cuties isn’t just with Netflix. It’s with the materialistic worldview dominating much of our culture.As tempting as it is to light the proverbial torches, the problem with Cuties isn’t just with Netflix. It's with the worldview that created Cuties. #cancelculture #apologetics Click To Tweet
Materialism believes that we’re all just meaningless hunks of meat with maybe 80+/- years of existence. We might as well just do whatever we want with our bodies because #YOLO!
The problem with this is that if the body doesn’t matter then what you do with that body doesn’t matter — including little gyrating 11-year-old bodies. Combine this with the hyper-sexualized push for female empowerment (which we’ll get to in a sec) and you have all the makings for an objectifying nightmare.
According to the Christian worldview, what we do with our bodies matters. Only in Christianity do we find objective moral truths that explain the purpose of sex, the purpose of bodies, and why it is wrong to have children basically perform sexual dances for a crowd of slobbering perverts masquerading as art critics. For everyone else, it’s just their or their society’s opinion.
Use this opportunity to make sure that your child and your outraged social media pals know why the materialistic worldview falls flat and how Christianity affirms purposeful sexuality and our intrinsic worth and dignity.
2. Degrading the body starts with the mind.
Cuties has been called a lot of things, but I’d like to add a new word to the mix: accurate. It accurately depicts the decline of the human person brought about by sexual sin, as described in Paul’s letter to the Romans.
In Romans 1:21-32, Paul shows how we spiral down the depravity drain whenever we turn our backs on God. First, our thinking becomes self-centered and worthless, which spills over and screws up our heart’s ability to make moral decisions (v. 22).
Once that happens, there’s nothing stopping us from the final step of becoming selfish, greedy, disobedient hornballs (vv. 26-32).
Part of protecting the mind is being aware of where it has become numb or desensitized. Desensitization can be a good thing if you’re trying to overcome a fear of heights, but not so great when you are so exposed to a sin that it becomes no big deal.Desensitization can be a good thing if you’re trying to overcome a fear of heights, but not so great when you are so exposed to a sin that it becomes no big deal. #truth Click To Tweet
To help our kiddos resist this cycle, they need to know that sexual sin starts in the mind, not in the bedroom (or the back seat of a car) (Matt. 5:27-28). We need to make sure that their morality meters are functioning properly so that they can recognize when they’re being fed a cleverly packaged lie so they can spit that nonsense in the trash.
An easy way to do this is to sit down and watch the shows, books, and music your children like. What are some of the messages being taught? What do those messages really say about you and your body?
Follow this up by comparing those messages with what God says about us and what’s best for us. Mama bears, if we want to help our kids protect their bodies, we have to start by equipping their minds.
3. Sexual objectification isn’t female empowerment.
Director Maïmouna Doucouré was inspired to make Cuties after watching a similar group of girls shaking their money-makers at a local talent competition. She said she was both “shocked” at the dancing but also “admired” how the girls didn’t seem to understand what their dance moves were saying to the cheering crowd.
Ummm…what exactly is admirable about little girls in front of a crowd looking like they’re having sex? I’d like to chalk this up to a poor choice in phrasing, but if I had to guess, she’s probably bought into the false definition of modern female empowerment.
Today, sexually degrading yourself has been rebranded into “sexual confidence and forthrightness” (and by The New York Times no less).
If you want to show that you are an empowered female, you don’t do it by being a stay-home mom or crushing it at work. Nope! You slap on a thong and grind like a backup dancer in Cardi B’s disgusting “WAP” video.
Degrading yourself is powerful but that doesn’t make it empowering. No adult or child can be empowered by actions that ignore their humanity and reduce them to a walking sex toy.Degrading and objectifying yourself is NOT #GirlPower. How do we not get this yet? #cuties #Netflix Click To Tweet
To help our girls stand firm against false ideas of femininity, they need to know that true empowerment comes from being a Proverbs 31 girl while relying on Christ, not from the likes they get from doing their best TikTok stripper impersonation.
4. We’re living in a culture groomed by social media.
If a false sense of female empowerment were flames, then social media would be the fuel keeping this dumpster fire burning.
Cuties captures this progression well. The main character Amy (pronounced “ah-MEE”) starts innocently enough with a selfie, but her pictures and outfits become increasingly risqué as she runs after the increasing high (and yes, it is a high) from social media fame.
I probably don’t have to tell you that social media is designed to be addictive and manipulative. That rush of dopamine our brains release whenever our phone dings can convince us to do all sorts of stupid stuff (just look at the concussion challenge)!
Kids need to have a healthy fear when it comes to social media. As parents, we need to talk about the importance of boundaries, the dangers of basing your self-worth on public approval, and the hazards of oversharing emotionally and visually with an internet full of strangers.
Don’t be afraid to ban apps and monitor your child’s online activity. You’re the parent, not their BFF. No, our kids don't deserve privacy when it comes to social media. We are their parents, not their BFF. If they want privacy, get them a diary. Click To Tweet
If they fuss about their lack of privacy, hand them a diary and promise not to read it. That’s all the privacy they get. And beyond that, gently remind them that we’re all accountable to someone (God, bosses, family, etc.) so they can either accept your reasonable terms or spend the rest of their teen years rocking a flip phone. Maybe that’s one 90’s trend that needs to come back.
5. Sexuality is a spiritual matter.
Surprisingly, this was one of the few movies I have ever seen which depicts the spiritual implications of degrading the body.
Amy’s mother blew off her behavior as normal teenage angst…until she discovered the (cough) anatomical picture on social media… and the stabbing of another student…the attempted seduction of her uncle…and then she finally loses it. She is horrified at what Amy has become, so she and the elderly aunt do the only thing they know how to do, which essentially looked like a Muslim exorcism.
As the women pray and toss handfuls of water, Amy looks cold and starts to shake. But as the camera spins, she starts writhing on the ground as if she’s possessed by the dance moves she had been idolizing.
It looks demonic, and you can see just how much it has consumed her. The symbolism of this disturbing scene showed how sexual sin doesn’t just affect the body, it affects the mind and the spirit, too. Our sexuality is not just physical and emotional. When used improperly, it carries a whole lot of spiritual baggage. #cuties #Netflix Click To Tweet
Parents, nearly everything your child is being taught in health class, on TV, and through other forms of media is from the materialistic perspective that only focuses on the body. Showing kids how to prevent pregnancy and STD’s misleads them into thinking that the only consequences to sex are physical, but we are more than material beings. Alcoholism, depression, unhealthy body image, and more affect the majority of young people who are sexually active.
Simply put: We need whole-person-ed, not just sex-ed.
You probably noticed that I didn’t talk about pedophilia in this post. There were a ton of topics and symbolism within the movie that I would have loved to cover but had to cut to keep this blog bathroom visit length. Since pedophilia has been talked about by nearly everyone, I decided to focus on what hasn’t been said. If you’d like more info but don’t want to watch the movie, feel free to contact me.
Cuties has been a really tough movie for so many moms out there, especially for our girl moms. Which one of the five things do you find easiest to chat about with your family? Do you have any tips that have helped you navigate tough situations like this film? Share them in the comments below, you might answer another Mama or Papa Bear’s prayer. Yes, the pedophilia undertones are REALLY concerning, but if that's your only takeaway, you are missing the deeper issues. #worldview #cuties #Netflix Click To Tweet
 The point of Cuties was to expose this issue, but director Maïmouna Doucouré shot herself in the foot when she participated and forced the audience with her raunchy camera angles to participate in the exact behavior she was trying to condemn.
 This opportunity doesn’t make movies like Cuties okay; that’s what you’d call consequentialism, which says that as long as a good outcome outweighs the bad, whatever action got you there is a-OK. With that logic, you could justify all sorts of awful things, so we’re going to give that thought process a hard pass.
 And God lets us (vv. 24-26). If you’ve ever had a stubborn kiddo who insisted on putting his hand near the stove even after you told him not to, then you’ll understand why God pulls this total mom move. Sometimes, that knucklehead needs to burn their finger to realize that mom knows what she’s talking about. God does that with us at times when we insist on disobeying Him so that we fully grasp just how much we need Him. It’s the ultimate cosmic reality check.
 Case in point, these 11-year-olds were so used to slutty dancing that they had no qualms about doing it themselves. It was just dancing; it didn’t mean anything.
 For example: “My body, my choice,” sounds like freedom, but really it’s saying what you do to yourself doesn’t matter so long as you really want to do it. This phrase is used primarily with abortion rights, but it can apply to pretty much anything we want to do with ourselves.
 John Caramanica, “‘WAP’ Is Good, Raunchy Fun. On TikTok, It’s At Home,” August 28, 2020, New York Times, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/28/arts/music/wap-cardi-b-megan-thee-stallion-ppcocaine.html. The video has even spawned a TikTok challenge where you imitate Cardi B. to create “feel good titillation to…tease your parents with.” Seriously?
 Acts of self-objectification are encouraged by 3rd-wave feminists as a tactic to get ahead in life because who needs hard work to land a promotion when you have a nice rack?
 By powerful, I mean that our actions communicate the worldview that we have adopted. If we sleep around, party, etc., we are making a powerful statement about what we think about ourselves and how others see us.
 Likewise, our boys need to understand that women are not soulless tools for their pleasure, but sisters in Christ worthy of respect, encouragement, admiration, and protection from those who would lead them into bondage.
 In the same way that an addict seeks the dopamine release from drugs, Amy posts nude pictures, attempts to seduce an adult, and assaults a classmate just to get her next fix.
 To be fair, not every kid who gets on social media is going to lose their minds like Amy. One thing I can promise you is that, given enough time, they will see someone else who does because no filter is perfect, and for apps like TikTok, they’re practically nonexistent.
 If you really want to freak yourself out, watch Social Dilemma on Netflix. It’ll make you want to burn your phones. Our executive director actually got rid of Instagram because of the film. Straight up deleted it the night she watched it.
 Melina M. Bersamin, “Risky Business: Is There an Association between Casual Sex and Mental Health among Emerging Adults?,” Journal of Sex Research 51 no. 1 (2014) 43-51, www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00224499.2013.772088; Jennifer L. Walsh, “Do Alcohol and Marijuana Use Decrease the Probability of Condom Use for College Women?,” Journal of Sex Research 51, no. 2 (2014) 145-58, www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00224499.2013.821442. See also Nancy Pearcey, Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions About Life and Sexuality (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2018),138. Kids need to know that God designed sex to be a symbol of His relationship with the church, which is only modeled in relationships that are chaste in a heterosexual marriage. When we live a lifestyle that falls outside of that design, we can’t flourish as Christians because we’re basically doing idol worship (Rom. 1:23-26).
Amy Davison is a former Air Force veteran turned Mama Bear Apologist. She is currently a grad student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary studying apologetics and philosophy. She and her husband Michael (also former Air Force) have been married for over 12 years and have 3 kids. Amy is the Mama Bear resident expert on sex and sexuality, and she’s especially hoping to have that listed on her Mama Bear business card.