I am all for taking up a cause and standing behind a call to action, especially when it involves children. I also have this love hate relationship with Netflix who has simultaneously given me hours of content to watch during my treadmill journeys while also determining what content my kids can see under their “child account” which has their Netflix parent controls all set up. So why do I have any ‘hate’ relationship? I personally wouldn’t approve the maturity levels that Netflix does, but intellectually also understand that they are trying to create a general solution for those of us that would like personalized attention. I get it, they can’t keep us all happy and I do appreciate their efforts to keep us all informed and give some simple steps to set things up for the family.
So here we are again with an angry mob challenging and calling for protests of Netflix for the graphic used of young sexualized girls from the French film they are about to launch, “Cuties”. On the surface I can understand the anger and the disgust that the public is having, it is disgusting what this represents. However, this is not what Netflix has created at all. I know hear me out before you turn on me too quickly.
This film depicts a young Muslim Sudanese immigrant that has moved to France and is trying to fit in with her eleven-year-old peers. In the film, the child is faced with holding true to her cultural family values or being accepted by her peers who are immersed into the world of social media posting videos of their dancing and waiting for the ultimate approval through our culture of “likes” and “follows”. This isn’t just about this child, this immigrant family, but every family and every young girl that comes of age and is given access to their own social media.
The truth is, Netflix shouldn’t be attacked for the risk of bringing such an honest portrayal of what is happening with our children on an hourly basis day after day. It certainly should evoke anger, in fact I would be disappointed with society if they didn’t recognize that this story of our most vulnerable children being groomed to become sexualized objects from the youngest age is representative of what is happening across our globe.
When you live a minute in my shoes, a clinician that works with families, schools and children all impacted by this issue you may also feel differently. Netflix shouldn’t be attacked for being the messenger, for they are not the ones that have created the system it is attempting to show. Most children are exposed to pornography by the age of 8 in this world. They are typically chronically viewing pornography by the age of 11. Chronically living in a world where they are viewing and accessing sexualization of humans at 11. Netflix isn’t to blame for the reality that our children and families are currently living in. If a mob is going to form, let’s take a look at who has built this system, who has continued to fund this system, and who we can count on to change the system.