Children of the Revolution | Sajan Suganth

When Netflix released the trailer for French film ‘Cuties’, the backlash was unanimous. The movie’s synopsis originally read: ‘Amy, 11, becomes fascinated with a twerking dance crew. Hoping to join them, she starts to explore her femininity, defying her family’s traditions.’ Understandably, the overall response was of visceral disgust. (The film’s poster didn’t do much to help.) In response to criticism, Netflix changed the poster and the plot description, but refused to take down the movie.

How could Netflix promote child exploitation? Some people encouraged critics to be patient and wait for the film’s release. Judging from the original IMDB parents’ guide (which has since been changed), our worst fears have been confirmed. Since the movie’s release, Netflix stocks have tanked. The hashtag ‘Cancel Netflix’ trended on Twitter for 3 consecutive days. Senator Josh Hawley politely invited Netflix to congress. Democrat congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard called the movie ‘child porn.’ Regardless of political affiliation, public condemnation has been swift and forceful.

Our men and women of letters do not share this revulsion. Following the film’s release, The New Yorker, The Washington Post and The Telegraph published glowing reviews. The critic consensus on Rotten Tomatoes stands in stark contrast to the audience score. Film critics are eager to frame the debate in political terms. Alyssa Rosenberg of the Washington Post claimed she was ‘disgusted and sad’- not from watching ‘Cuties’ mind you- but due to ‘conservatives who have jumped on the bandwagon.’ This argument encourages activists, motivated by their hatred of conservatives, to flock to the film’s defence. This argument also frames opposition to ‘Cuties’ as unjustified moral hysteria, the kind of thing only a QAnon conspiratorial nutjob would participate in. This could not be further from the truth. You don’t have to be conservative or even vaguely politically aware to find this disgusting. Nevertheless, Richard Brody of the New Yorker opts for an intersectional defence- ‘it’s a story of French society at large—its exclusions and the exertions demanded to overcome them,’ he claims. I don’t believe him.

The politicisation is a facade. Once it is uncovered, we are confronted with the familiar language of sexual ‘liberation.’ The Telegraph’s Tim Robey says we are ‘terrified of child sexuality.’ This is a tired retort applied to a fresh and revolting context; any conservative who criticises promiscuity, hook-up culture or extramarital sex can expect a near-identical reaction (without the ‘child’ part.) The arguments of the sexual revolution are now being effectuated to justify child abuse. Whilst this may not have been the original intention, the familiar language of ‘consenting adults’ has prioritised ‘ consenting’ at the expense of ‘adults.’ In sexual relations, we have been told that consent is the only consideration and thus the highest good. This logic excuses adultery, prostitution, and even polyamory. The sternest criticism available is that we would not adopt these behaviours; they are perfectly adequate for society at large. Who are we to judge? ‘I happen to prefer champagne to ditch water,’ said Oliver Wendell Holmes, ‘but there is no reason to suppose that the cosmos does.’ Despite the protestations of an ever-shrinking minority, our society has been drinking ditch water by the gallon.

The existence of ‘Cuties’ is disturbing but not surprising. In over 240 schools, children as young as six are being given rules for “touching yourself.” Most children (aged 11-13) have been exposed to internet porn, with the majority first finding it by accident. In a remarkable act of self-deception, 75% of parents believe their child would not have seen pornography online; 53% of their children have. ‘Cuties’ is the tip of the iceberg-parents hardly have an awareness of the issues their children face, let alone a will to tackle them. Rod Dreher of The American Conservative offers an amusing solution to the awareness problem: ‘I would love to take an auditorium full of American normies, force them to sit through a screening of half an hour of the worst of Cuties, and force them to recognize that this is the culture in which their daughters (and sons) are growing up, and that they’re enabling it by giving their kids access to smartphones.’ Much like these parents, we delude ourselves when we pretend that children do not bear the costs of a sex-saturated culture.

And there’s a cruel logic to all of this. If children are taught about sex in the most degenerate way possible (by our culture and education system) they are more informed. If they are more informed, they can consent to sexual activity at a younger age. This is nonsense; no matter how informed a child is, they are still a child. All children are restricted in their ability to apply information, by their limited intelligence and maturity. What happened to ‘consenting adults?’

Professor Robert P George puts it bluntly: ‘…you can have the sexual revolution or you can have childhood innocence. You can’t have both.’

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