e131. Cuties: Eroticizing the Innocent and Infantilizing Sexuality

It’s rare that a tiny little foreign market indie film gets any mainstream media attention at all. It’s even rarer that it actually trends on social media, creating calls for the public to boycott the world’s largest streaming service and results in court investigations of that company. And yet, Netflix’s new film Cuties managed to do just that. There’s been a lot of mixed reaction to the film between critics and the public. Defenders argue that it is a frank criticism of the way media like TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras sexualizes children, while detractors argue that it is outright kiddie porn and should be banned. At the time of publication of this episode, the film has a critic score on Rotten Tomatoes of 86% and a Metacritic score of 67%. But, the audience RT score is 15% and MC of 0.8 (yes, zero point eight out of ten, effectively an 8%). Still, a brief perusal of the negative reviews makes it clear that most have never actually watched it. Well, of course we did. On this episode, Wayne and Mav welcome returning guest Carolyn Salvi to discuss and critique the film as well as contextualize it within the problematic cultural history of child sexualization in media and try to answer the question why do we sexualize youth — especially young girls — in media anyway. Give it a listen and let us know what you think.

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