Uncomfortable moments can teach lifelong lessons

Bradley Massman

Bradley Massman

It was the most uncomfortable, awkward and eye-opening hour-and-a-half I’ve ever experienced.

To coin an old phrase: It was like a car crash that I couldn't look away from.

Earlier this week, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed and saw several posts regarding a new “controversial and disturbing” movie on Netflix.

I’ve watched a lot of gory films in my time. I’m a huge fan of anything directed by Eli Roth, a well-known horror filmmaker, and have stomached the Saw series numerous times.

That being said, even those types of movies couldn’t prepare me for the French film, "Cuties" — a story of an 11-year-old girl who starts to rebel against her conservative family’s traditions when she becomes fascinated with a free-spirited dance crew.

It is not a movie for everyone. That is very easy to admit.

Many have canceled their Netflix subscriptions solely on the release of this movie. I can understand every reason why.

There are scenes that will make you feel uncomfortable, cover your eyes, or even briefly walk out of the room. My fiancée, Sarah, and I did all three throughout the movie.

However, as a hopeful future parent, I learned a lot about how society has changed since my 11-year-old days.

When I was 11, my friends and I were flexing Pokémon cards, passing handwritten notes in class, and living care-free lives. Thanks to advancements in technology and creation of social media platforms, it’s a much different world in 2020.

While many will argue the movie focuses on child exploitation, it has, in my opinion, many other important lessons that can be learned, especially if you’ve been out-of-touch with the youth.

As a viewer, it was extremely important to remember throughout the film that the actors are being portrayed as 11-year-old children. It is important because the problems kids face in schools now — especially bullying — they are facing at a much younger age.


There are two very disheartening scenes in the movie that made me shake my head in disbelief. One of the main characters, also 11, is bullied by her “friends” because of her weight. It’s not until later in the movie you learn the girl is battling bulimia because of comments made by her friends.

For me, I was infuriated. An 11-year-old should not be going through that, even if it’s a movie. When did things become so harsh?

Even as I wrote this column, I asked myself, “Is society really like that now?”

I’ve yet to come to an answer, and I don’t think I ever will.

Another lesson that can be learned is just how impressionable a young mind can be. From what they say, to what they do or how they act — this movie did a fantastic job of showing how easily a young person can be influenced.

There are several moments of “monkey see, monkey do” throughout the film — most of which are negative, like stealing.

It all goes back to the perspective of remembering the ages of the actors being portrayed in the movie — 11 years old.

As I mentioned earlier, Cuties is not a movie for everyone. It is not a movie I’d ever recommend or have any desire to watch again.

It is, however, a movie that could have a powerful impact on someone’s outlook.

Bradley Massman is the editor of the Lake County Star. He can be reached at bmassman@hearstnp.com.