The sexualization of underage girls in entertainment is nothing new. Before she was a household name and America’s sweetheart, Shirley Temple, then just three years old, played diapered nightclub singers and prostitutes in a series of shorts called “Baby Burlesk.” Even as a star in subsequent years, her onscreen physicality with adult male costars (not to mention her absurdly short dresses) raised eyebrows. More recently, in the 1970s, a ten-year-old Brooke Shields was photographed nude for Sugar and Spice, a Playboy publication. Permitting the photoshoot was a questionable decision by her mother, Teri, but a smart move by her manager, also Teri. It earned Brooke the leading role, as child prostitute Violet, in 1978’s Pretty Baby.

The French film Cuties, released this month on Netflix, first came to my attention because of a…

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