With targeted staff cuts, new corporate ethos, streamer takes stand for creative independence against identitarian conformity. Is this the beginning of the end of cancel culture?
by Christian Toto, JusttheNews.com, May 22, 2022
Dave Chappelle's 2021 Netflix stand-up special "The Closer" sparked protests from the streamer's own employees over allegedly anti-trans jokes.
Now, the platform is drawing an unmistakable line in the sand, proclaiming a corporate culture that prizes individual creative freedom above the collective ideological discipline enforced by cancel culture.
Netflix's updated corporate culture memo says the company won't "censor specific artists or voices," even material employees may deem "harmful."
"If you'd find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you," the memo none-too-subtly hints.
The revelation suggests Netflix, bludgeoned by falling stock prices and a shrinking subscriber base, is declaring independence (at least aspirationally) from the identitarian left orthodoxies shackling the entertainment industry — perhaps taking to heart a social media meme embraced by the right: "Get woke, go broke."
Elon Musk — now mounting his own bid to restore expressive freedom at Twitter — weighed in on Netflix's woes, suggesting the platform had become "unwatchable" thanks to a "woke mind virus" behind content like "He's Expecting" and the "One Day at a Time" reboot.
While the restatement of the streaming platform's company creed might be interpreted as mere words — little more than a calculated feint to placate a customer base weary of cultural revolution and ideological purges — Netflix appears to be backing it up with actions.
Nearly 70 contractors writing for the company's left-wing brands such as the black-centric "Strong Black Lead" and the Asian-focused "Golden" were let go from the company as part of a downsizing effort the company has undertaken over the past several weeks.
Many of the workers reportedly only discovered their dismissal over Zoom, or by learning via the communication app Slack that their work channels had been shut down.
Also reportedly suffering firings were the LGBTQ brand "Most" and the Latino-geared project "Con Todo."
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Resentment over the firings swept across social media. Netflix had "hired a powerhouse team of creators from a variety of marginalized communities and they were performing exceptionally well," wrote "empathy worker" Karla Monteresso on Twitter. "Had us all invested in their work."
Netflix also canceled "Anti-Racist Baby," an animated take on progressive activist-publicist Ibram X. Kendi's book of the same name, as well as "Pearl," Meghan Markle's planned animated project focused on a young girl who draws inspiration from powerful women.
The Netflix pivot comes after it fired veteran actor Frank Langella from a new adaptation of "The Fall of the House of Usher" over alleged on-set misbehavior.
The "Frost/Nixon" star blamed "Cancel Culture" for his removal in an outraged, defiant rebuttal to the charges published by Deadline.com, a left-leaning entertainment news site — an editorial decision which may itself be another sign of an incipient cultural thaw.
Nico Perrino, vice president of communications for FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education), applauds Netflix for making a commitment to free expression. Perrino says we've often seen just the opposite, particularly from academia.
"Colleges and university leaders will be wishy washy, issue milquetoast statements in defense of free speech," Perrino says. "Those who wish to censor seize on that weakness, often with success."
Netflix's most recent declaration, he says, "recognizes that America is a diverse place and content needs to be created for a diverse community."
Corporations often bow to woke sensibilities, from sharing pro-LGBTQ+ flags on social media to paying travel costs for employees seeking abortions. The Netflix corporate statement suggests another path forward.
Perrino notes a similar corporate decision made by Coinbase, a cryptocurrency platform.
That company's CEO, Brian Armstrong, announced in 2020 Coinbase will avoid political statements of all kinds. Mass resignations ensued for the San Francisco-based firm. A year later, the company said the decision enhanced its bottom line.