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Netflix Fires Major Warning Shot At Its Woke Employees With New ‘Culture Memo’

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Netflix has fired a warning shot at “woke” employees who have been attempting to silence artistic expression and cancel figures with whom they disagree.

A new memo from the streaming service giant states that anyone seeking to silence artists may want to go find another job somewhere else.

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A report from Variety details how this all began last year after some “woke” employees complained about comedian Dave Chappelle’s special, which the employees claimed was “transphobic.”

In its updated Culture memo, there’s a new section called “Artistic Expression” that states the company will not “censor specific artists or voices” even if employees consider the content “harmful.”

“If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you,” the memo states.

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The report adds:

The core principles of the Netflix Culture memo, including empowering employee decision-making, requiring candid feedback and terminating staffers who aren’t up to “dream team” snuff, remain intact. But there are some key changes. For starters, the document has a new title: “Netflix Culture — Seeking Excellence” (previously it was simply called “Netflix Culture”).

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More significantly, the document adds a new directive for employees to act with fiscal responsibility — a change that comes as Netflix in Q1 saw its first decline in subscribers in more than a decade. The updated Netflix Culture memo also includes a new section called “Artistic Expression,” explaining that the streamer will not “censor specific artists or voices” even if employees consider the content “harmful,” and bluntly states, “If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.”

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.

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“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 new section reads. “To help members make informed choices about what to watch, we offer ratings, content warnings, and easy-to-use parental controls.”

“Not everyone will like — or agree with — everything on our service,” the Artistic Expression section continues. “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; and we let viewers decide what’s appropriate for them, versus having Netflix censor specific artists or voices.”

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The section concludes, “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. If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.”

The update also cuts out the following section: “Note that if our company experienced financial difficulty, we wouldn’t ask our employees to accept less pay. A sports team with a losing record still pays top of personal market for the players they hope will get them back into a winning position. On the other hand, if the company does well, our broadly distributed stock options become quite valuable.”

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