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Elon Musk Backs Netflix as Streaming Service Again Hit by Controversy

The streaming platform, with subscriber numbers falling, again finds itself immersed in a controversy linked to a show.
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Netflix Inc  (NFLX) - Get Netflix Inc. Report didn't need another controversy. 

As the pioneer of cord-cutting tries to find new sources of growth in the face of the saturation of the streaming market, Netflix again finds itself in the middle of a controversy. 

The subject this time: the new show by the British comedian and actor Ricky Gervais. SuperNature, Gervais's one-man show, is described as transphobic by LGBTQ+ associations because he mocks the trans community.

Remarks, and Outcry

Four minutes in, Gervais turns to women, but "not all women."

“Oh, women!,” the author of The Office and After Life began. "Not all women, I mean the old-fashioned ones. The old-fashioned women, the ones with wombs." He then segues into a profanity-laced run of remarks about transgender women. And at the end of the show, he says:

"Full disclosure: In real life, of course, I support trans rights. I support all human rights, and trans rights are human rights. Live your best life. Use your preferred pronouns. Be the gender that you feel you are."

As Gervais might have expected, the show caused an outcry from LGBTQ+ associations.

"We watched the Ricky Gervais 'comedy' special on Netflix so you don’t have to," the LGBTQ+ advocate Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or Glaad, responded. "It’s full of graphic, dangerous, anti-trans rants masquerading as jokes. He also spouts anti-gay rhetoric & spreads inaccurate information about HIV."

The organization added:

"Netflix has a policy that content 'designed to incite hate or violence' is not allowed on their platform, but we all know that anti-LGBTQ content does exactly that. While Netflix is home to some groundbreaking LGBTQ shows, it refuses to enforce its own policy in comedy."

'Great Show'

Netflix didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. But the controversy comes at a difficult time for the company.

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The world, tired of the covid-19 pandemic, is open again. The entertainment-streaming company reported in April that in the first quarter it lost 200,000 global subscribers and expects to lose another 2 million in the quarter ending in June. 

Netflix stock is down 69% since January at $187.83 as of May 25. The company has lost more than $184 billion in market capitalization over the period. 

Suffice to say that the company needs support. And Netflix has just found a backer: the most influential CEO on the planet today. 

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc. Report, has just intervened in the controversy by giving a high mark to Gervais's show.

"Great show!" Musk posted on Twitter to his 95 million followers.

The reaction of the richest man in the world is not really a surprise. In April, the tech tycoon said that Netflix's struggles stemmed from what he called its embrace of cancel culture and wokism.

"The woke mind virus is making Netflix unwatchable," the billionaire tweeted after Netflix released its first-quarter earnings.

Musk was referring to the stand-up comedian Dave Chapelle's controversial show, of which Gervais's performance is now reminiscent. 

Last October, Chapelle found himself at the heart of a media storm after the release  on Netflix of a special "The Closer," described as transphobic. The show sparked an employee walkout at Netflix.

Originally, woke designated being aware of, and mobilized to correct, the injustices suffered by ethnic, sexual and religious minorities and all forms of discrimination. 

But the word is also derided today as an instrument of censorship and synonymous with cancel culture.

In Mid-May Netflix updated its corporate-culture memo for the first time since 2017. asserting that employees who do not agree with the content broadcast on the platform can quit.