Netflix’s new corporate culture statement is taking a strong position on attempts to restrict artistic freedom, advising anyone who are upset by the streaming service’s programming to look for work elsewhere.
According to Variety, the shift in Netflix’s corporate culture is due in part to the pushback the streaming business received last year from “woke” employees over its Dave Chappelle special, which the employees thought was transphobic. Even if employees deem the content “harmful,” the latest Netflix Culture memo contains a new section called “Artistic Expression,” which declares that it would not “ban certain artists or viewpoints.”
The Artistic Expression portion of the Netflix Culture document appears in large part a response to the controversy over Dave Chappelle’s “The Closer” that embroiled Netflix last fall over what critics said were his transphobic and homophobic comments in the stand-up special. Co-CEO Ted Sarandos defended the company’s decision to keep the Chappelle special on the service, triggering a large employee walkout in protest.
“If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you,” the new memo asserts, adding that employees could be required to work on some projects they “perceive to be harmful” and if they have a hard time with that work assignment, they should consider working somewhere else.
It’s worth noting that The Verge reported last fall that Netflix apparently fired the employee who was also the leader of a trans organization that organized a walkout to protest the company supporting Dave Chappelle.
The employee was terminated on suspicion of leaking metrics to the press related to the Dave Chappelle special. Those metrics — about how much Netflix paid for The Closer and how many people it reached — subsequently ended up in a report on Bloomberg. While the employee had shared the metrics internally, they spoke out against the leaks to colleagues, worried they might hurt the walkout movement.
The leaking of internal data is highly unusual at Netflix. While the company prides itself on transparency, employees are told that the culture can only thrive when Netflix data remains internal.
“Entertaining the world is an amazing opportunity and also a challenge because viewers have very different tastes and points of view. So we offer a wide variety of TV shows and movies, some of which can be provocative,” the newest portion of the Netflix Culture document states, adding, “we support the artistic expression of the creators we choose to work with” and that “we let viewers decide what’s appropriate for them, versus having Netflix censor specific artists or voices.”
ClownfishTV discusses the new memo at Netflix in a bit more detail here.