Netflix to woke workers: Suck it up or quit

Netflix has a message for its employees: If you don’t agree with the content on our streaming, go work elsewhere.

“Not everyone will like – or agree with – everything on our service,” the company said in a “culture memo” to its employees. “While every title is different, we approach them based on the same set of principles: we support the artistic expression of the creators we choose to work with; we program for a diversity of audiences and tastes. We let viewers decide what’s appropriate for them, versus having Netflix censor specific artists or voices. As employees we support the principle that Netflix offers a diversity of stories, even if we find some titles counter to our own personal values.”

“Depending on your role, you may need to work on titles you perceive to be harmful,” the company added. “If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.”

This should be the message all companies and businesses send: If you don’t like it, don’t agree with it — don’t let the door hit you too hard on the way out.

More and more in this country, employees believe they can shame a company into cancelling whatever content they wish. We saw this happen at the New York Times in 2020, when several high-profile progressive employees revolted against Pulitzer-Prize winning editor James Bennet for having the audacity to publish an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) arguing for sending in National Guard troops if riots and violent protests in U.S. cities got out of control. An ABC News poll at the time showed 52 percent of Americans supported Cotton’s perspective, making it a worthy column for civil debate.

But several Times journalists took to Twitter to voice their disagreement with the paper’s decision to publish Cotton’s piece, including “The 1619 Project” creator Nikole Hannah-Jones, advice columnist Roxanne Gay and opinion page writer Charlie Warzel.

“As a black woman, as a journalist, as an American, I am deeply ashamed that we ran this,” Hannah-Jones tweeted

On cue, leadership at the Times buckled. They apologized for publishing the piece, claiming it didn’t live up to its editorial standards. Bennet was out faster than you can say, “All the news that’s fit to print.” 

It was no better at Twitter after Elon Musk announced he would be buying the company. 

“Physically cringy watching Elon talk about free speech,” one Twitter engineer wrote on Slack

“We’re all going through the five stages of grief in cycles and everyone’s nerves are frazzled,” added a senior staff software engineer on the same platform. “We’re all spinning our wheels, and coming up with worst case scenarios (Trump returns! No more moderation!).” 

We witnessed similar public disagreements with management from employees at Spotify over Joe Rogan’s podcast and at Disney over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s signing of a law banning schools from talking about sexual orientation and gender identity to young children. Both Spotify and Disney saw younger employees defy their bosses.

It also occurred at Netflix when some employees there tried to “cancel” Dave Chappelle after they accused the equal-opportunity comedian of being transphobic. Hundreds of Netflix employees staged a walkout in October 2021 demanding that Chappelle be removed. 

But Netflix didn’t fold. Chappelle stayed and is arguably more popular than ever. 

“If this is what being canceled is like, I love it,” Chappelle told his fans during an appearance last October.  

I wonder whether America’s most famous free speech advocate, Elon Musk, indirectly influenced Netflix to send this message to its workers. Musk weighed in on Twitter on Monday, calling the Netflix memo “a good move” by the company. 

“We model ourselves on being a professional sports team, not a family,” the company also declared. “A family is about unconditional love. A dream team is about pushing yourself to be the best possible teammate, caring intensely about your team, and knowing that you may not be on the team forever.”

Netflix announced earlier this month that it is on track to lose 2 million subscribers in the second quarter of this year. The company lost $50 billion in market value on one day alone following that news.

The streaming giant is in no position, or any mood, to start slashing content and performers based on the whims of the woke within. Anyone who has a problem with that is free to disagree. They’re also free to leave. 

Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist.

Tags Dave Chappelle Dave Chappelle Disney Elon Musk Elon Musk Elon Musk Twitter takeover James Bennet Netflix netflix walkout New York Times Tom Cotton Twitter woke corporations woke culture woke progressive mob wokeism

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