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Netflix Makes a Bold Move Against Cancel Culture and Wokism

The streaming giant has a hard landing in a world weary from the Covid-19 pandemic.
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Netflix  (NFLX) - Get Netflix Inc. Report has work to do. 

The streaming giant is having a brutal start to the year. 

The overall picture is dark. 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 current quarter ending in June. 

Netflix stock is down 69% since January at $187.64. The company lost more than $184.3 billion in market capitalization over the period. 

These difficulties have prompted several experts to wonder about the future of Netflix in a world without pandemic because the streaming industry has become saturated in the United States. 

In a move of desperation, the company is considering a potentially revolutionary move. Netflix will, for the first time, consider a lower-priced version of the service that would display ads during the programming. 

"Those who have followed Netflix know that I've been against the complexity of advertising, and a big fan of the simplicity of subscription," co-chief executive officer Reed Hastings told investors during the earnings' call in April. "But as much as I'm a fan of that, I'm a bigger fan of consumer choice." 

Netflix could introduce ads at the end of the year, according to press reports.

Is Wokism The Source of Netflix's Problems?

When experts attribute Netflix's bad run to competition and other factors like the quality of shows, billionaire Elon Musk put forward another reason last April. Tesla  (TSLA) - Get Tesla Inc. Report CEO says Netflix is suffering from embracing cancel culture.

"The woke mind virus is making Netflix unwatchable," the billionaire tweeted as a comment on the earnings report. The post to which he responded stated that this was the first time in 10 years that Netflix had seen such a fall in subscribers. 

The world's richest man was referring to the Dave Chappelle controversy from a few months ago. 

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Musk has been a staunch defender of the controversial -- and successful -- comedian. Netflix is ​known for defending feminist and LGBTQ+ values. So the streaming platform was undoubtedly disillusioned when it discovered that one of its flagship shows, Dave Chappelle's The Closer, was criticized even by some of its employees. 

The program featured Chappelle talking about transgender people and his experience with a transgender comedian. Chappelle was sharply criticized by LGBTQ+ groups for some of his jokes, which the groups considered homophobic and transphobic.

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.

If You Don't Like the Content, You Can Quit

A month after Musk made his comments, Netflix seems to be somewhat vindicating the tech mogul. Indeed, the cord-cutting pioneer has just updated its corporate culture memo for the first time since 2017.

This new memo, which you can read in full here, has a new 'Artistic Expression' section in which Netflix explains that it will not sanction artists or certain voices even if employees consider their content harmful.

"Entertaining the world is an amazing opportunity and also a challenge because viewers have very different tastes and points of view," the company writes. "So we offer a wide variety of TV shows and movies, some of which can be provocative. 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," Netflix said. "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."

And Netflix asserts that employees who do not agree with the content broadcast on the platform can quit.

"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."

During the Dave Chappelle controversy, co-CEO Ted Sarandos defended the decision to keep the program on the platform, a choice that caused a large employee walkout in protest.

Unsurprisingly, Netflix's decision was welcomed by Musk.

"Good move by @netflix," the billionaire tweeted on May 15.