Netflix emerged as a powerful corporate voice for social justice nearly two years ago following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, funneling $100 million in cash into black banks and hiring high-profile black executives including former CMO Bozoma Saint John. and green lighted a series of projects aimed at progressive education for children.
“Silence is complicity,” Netflix wrote in one Tweet May 30, 2020, delivered just five days after Floyd’s murder. “Black lives matter. We have a platform, and we have a duty to speak out to our Black members, employees, creators and talent.”
But as Netflix adopts a recessionary mindset after its growth slowdown and the collapse of the Nasdaq, sending expensive talent like Saint John out the door and loud-voiced far right, including garrulous future Twitter owner Elon Musk, blaming Netflix’s sudden struggles with his According to the purported “awakened” agenda, the streaming company’s once-refreshing post-George Floyd era of cultural progressiveness seems to be over.
Certainly Netflix also needs to watch closely as its media competitor Disney faces retribution from reluctant far-right lawmakers in Florida after inadvertently getting caught up in the culture wars of its own.
In this week, diversity reported that Netflix is sinking a proposed animation project by producer and social activist Ava DuVernay, wings of fireand an animated adaptation of race researcher Ibram X. Kendi’s best-selling book, anti racist baby, a current target of the far right in its quest to wield political power over what has effectively branded it an election-year boogeyman, “critical race theory”.
Confusing smoke signals have emerged from Netflix’s Los Gatos, Calif., headquarters as reasons for the cancellations, which were reported on the same day that Netflix laid off 150 employees, a move the company directly linked to its revenue decline in the first quarter brought.
Quoting unnamed insider sources, diversity said the shows were axed for creative reasons, not business ones.
However there gizmodo As reported Wednesday, many of those who received pink slips from Netflix on Tuesday were technically contract workers spread across diversity-focused social media channels set up by Netflix. These included the black community-focused Strong Black Lead, Latinx-themd Con Todothe Asian-American Golden and the LGBTQ-focused Most.
The layoffs were stuffed into a bucket that Netflix, in company statements, directly attributed to the economic slowdown.
Next TV sent an email query to Netflix press representatives on Wednesday, which didn’t immediately get a response.
Did Netflix feign economic hardship to meekly duck from the culture wars?
Whatever Netflix’s reasons, the scrapping of the two shows, the layoffs, and several other moves make it appear that the company is at least awkwardly backing down from a bold agenda, and perhaps even capitulating to critics like the helpless Musk, who on Wednesday declared his own election-year allegiance to the GOP.
Notably, Musk — who previously attributed Netflix’s recent woes to the “wake mind virus” — on Monday praised Netflix for the changes it made to its internal “culture memo” position paper. In its revision, Netflix says it won’t censor its artists, like the controversial Dave Chappelle, and tells employees who have an issue with that policy to consider working elsewhere.
This message, of course, seems far removed from a declaration that “we have a platform and a duty to speak out…” ■