Despite data showing the opposite, Netflix has repeatedly denied that it leans to the left. Apparently, politics doesn’t enter into it. So, why did they give the Obamas a multi-project deal?
Last year, former Obama official Susan Rice was named to the board of directors of Netflix. Two months later, Barack Obama received a multi-project deal with the company. Seemingly, Netflix is moving from the filler of your morning hours, to a legitimate progressive platform.
John Perazzo wrote an editorial on the Netflix miniseries When They See Us by Ava DuVernay. To Perazzo, the miniseries essentially suggests the only reason that infamous Central Park Five were targeted in a criminal investigation involving rape and battery was they were black men in America.
Now, you could simply write this off as just another series under the Netflix umbrella, but it is not. A Spike Lee film, See You Yesterday, tells the story of a young black girl trying to save her brother from getting killed by the police. Another film called Knock Down the House is centered on Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Then you have films like The Edge of Democracy which figures the impeachment of corrupt female Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was because of a “right-wing dictatorship.”
The above points to Netflix’s leftward lean. But this doesn’t stop at the programming, as Netflix producer Neal Baer recently compared Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to Islamic State.
“I am more shocked by Mitch McConnell’s duplicity and pusillanimous actions and his work to completely fuck up the country,” Baer fumed. “I don’t think he even believes in any of this stuff. I see Mitch McConnell as being as bad as ISIS. I think he’s as deep a threat to the country as ISIS. And I think he’s a traitor to the country.”
The platform announced a potential boycott of pro-life states if lawmakers go ahead with criminalizing abortion. The company told Variety in a statement:
“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, told Variety. “It’s why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court. Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there, while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”
Barack and Michelle Obama’s plan to produce several documentaries for kids and adults for Netflix. The Obamas say that their content will focus on issues of “race, class, democracy, and civil rights.” Netflix has a reach of over 148 million people worldwide, including 60 million people in the United States heading into the 2020 election. Obama himself has said that he wants his Netflix projects to “train the next generation of leaders.” To that end, Sarandos (who also possesses democratic connections) said that Netflix was “…not The Obama Network…there’s no political slant to the programming.”
In 2018, Variety polled both sides of the U.S. political system, running an article that illustrated the Republican voters fleeing Netflix in droves, their alienation best defined by the #CancelNetflix hashtag on Twitter. Variety figured the appointment of the Obamas and the programming choices of Netflix to blame, particularly noting “The Break with Michelle Wolf” — a late-night-style show from the comedian who delivered a blistering takedown of the Trump administration and other conservative politicos at the White House Correspondents Association dinner.”
Netflix’s wide American viewership is significant as the 2020 election is just around the corner. Stay tuned.