Written by: Anthony Hall
Netflix, Netflix, oh where art thou Netflix? I am not sure what to make of the current programming on Netflix other than to say it is underwhelming and a bit disappointing that a company that once had such promise is choosing to take on Propaganda and Chief as their primary role. This paper will discuss how Netflix seems to be pushing an agenda, but not just any agenda, a Gay one. Yes, I said it, and yes, you are now “triggered,” which is a word people in my generation often misuse.
However, before you stop reading and throw your computer against the wall and begin hurling epithets like “homophobic, ignorant, stupid” and whatever other labels we hurl at people when we attempt to censor them, I invite you to finish reading this entire paper. This paper may not go in the direction that you think it will, so I encourage you to read the whole article, although it’s longer than a tweet. Is Netflix pushing an agenda, yes. Why is that a problem? Keep reading.
Netflix is a media-streaming and video-rental company founded in 1997 by American entrepreneurs Reed Hastings and Marc Randolph. It is also involved in the creation of original programming. Corporate headquarters are in Los Gatos, California. In 1999 Netflix began offering an online subscription service through the Internet. Subscribers chose movie and television titles from Netflix’s Web site; the shows were then mailed to customers in DVDs, along with prepaid return envelopes, from one of more than 100 distribution centers. Netflix had tens of thousands of movie titles in its catalog.
In 2006 Netflix launched the $1 million Netflix Prize contest to see if anyone could improve by 10 percent its recommendation system, an algorithm for predicting an individual’s movie preferences based on previous rental data. In 2007 Netflix began offering subscribers the option to stream some of its movies and television shows directly to their homes. For most subscription plans, the streaming service was unlimited. Netflix subsequently partnered with manufacturers of various consumer electronics products, including video game consoles and Blu-ray Disc players, to enable its videos to be streamed over an Internet connection to those devices. In 2010 Netflix introduced a streaming-only plan that offered unlimited streaming service but no DVDs. Netflix then expanded beyond the United States by providing the streaming-only program in Canada in 2010, in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2011, and the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Scandinavia in 2012.
By 2016 its streaming service was available in more than 190 countries and territories. Netflix had announced in September 2011 that it would split its streaming and mail-based services, with the latter to be called Qwikster, but abandoned the planned split a month later, citing an outcry from its subscribers. While its streaming services became the biggest revenue generator—with more than 130 million subscribers in 2018—the rental division remained profitable.
In 2013 with the episodic drama series House of Cards, the company offered video content explicitly produced for its streaming service. Such content became a significant focus of Netflix, and by the end of 2018, it offered approximately 1,000 original titles. Its notable series included Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Stranger Things, Narcos, and The Crown. It also produced numerous movies—notably Roma (2018), which won three Academy Awards, including best foreign-language film. It has undoubtedly accelerated the trend towards cord-cutting. There are approximately 86.5 million households still paying for cable television in 2019, but this was forecast to decline to 72.7 million by 2023.
The Fight Begins
“Every damn new series has an unnecessary gay character.” Twitter user AdamSB__wrote.
“Sorry you have yet to realize that every gay person is very necessary,” Netflix responded.
While Netflix’s response was concise, and I applauded the point they were making, they did not address the point that AdamSB was making. Adam’s position seems to be that Netflix is disproportionately representing the Gay community in their shows and that misrepresentation is giving many Americans an incorrect perception of how large the Gay community is in the United States.
When asked, Americans believe that one in four Americans (23.6%) are gay or lesbian. Gallup has previously found that Americans have greatly overestimated the U.S. gay population, recording similar average estimates of 24.6% in 2011 and 23.2% in 2015. In each of the three polls in which Gallup has asked this question, most Americans estimated this population to be 20% or higher.
Americans’ estimate of the proportion of gay people in the U.S. is more than five times Gallup’s more encompassing 2017 estimate that 4.5% of Americans are LGBT, based on respondents’ self-identification as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Gallup’s methodology is not the only way to estimate the percentage of the population that is gay or lesbian. Still, all available estimates of the actual gay and lesbian community in the U.S. are far lower than what the public views. No measurement procedure has produced any figures suggesting that more than one out of five Americans are gay or lesbian. Gallup has seen the percentage of self-identifying LGBT people grow among millennials.
How Much Representation Does the LGBT Community Receive on Television?
“The percentage of LGBTQ series regulars on broadcast primetime scripted programming is up to an all-time high of 8.8 percent,” according to LGBTQ media advocacy group GLAAD, which has been tracking LGBTQ characters on T.V. for more than two decades. Remember, the LGBTQ community represents 4.5 percent of the population; however, on T.V., they make up almost ten percent of what you see. I am not saying that is a bad thing, to the contrary. GLAAD found that of the 857 series, regular characters counted on 111 primetime scripted shows across the five broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, The C.W., FOX, and NBC — 75 regular series characters were LGBTQ, up from 58 last year. GLAAD also counted an additional 38 recurring LGBTQ characters on these programs. Gay men made up more than 40 percent of the combined regular and recurring characters.
According to Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO and President of GLAAD, “With anti-LGBTQ policies being debated here and abroad, the stories and characters on television are more critical than ever before to build understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ people.” I don’t know how anyone with a heart could disagree with Mrs. Ellis’ statement.
The Problem with Our New Propaganda and Chief
Knowledge, strength, excellence, and status are outcomes; they are not attainable by themselves. You cannot have one without the other; they are a package deal. A person cannot obtain status without excellence. You cannot receive excellence without strength, and strength without knowledge is pointless. Prisons house many men and women who know to succeed but do not have the strength of character to make the right choices. All of us have a platform, and we should use it to pursue knowledge and develop intellectual curiosity, acquire a lifelong love of learning, and discover how to learn independently. We should learn to make the world a better place by giving our time and talents, celebrate and learn from our diversity, and promote global education. There isn’t anything wrong with pushing an agenda that asks people to look at the LGBTQ community as people and not merely a “lifestyle.” There is something wrong, very wrong, with not having the courage to admit to it.
If you are going to be an ally, don’t be a coward when speaking up. Own up to what you are doing and be proud. You are pushing an agenda, yes. You are trying to make the LGBTQ community acceptable to the masses, yes. You want people to get used to seeing two men kiss and make out, yes. There isn’t anything wrong with those goals, but when you hide behind pithy tweets and press releases that don’t address the elephant in the room, you look weak—man up.
When asked why most of their new content has a member of the LGBTQ in it, Netflix should reply, “we want people to move away from referring to the LGBTQ community as a lifestyle. We want people to see them as mothers, fathers, and brothers. We want people to love them not for who they sleep with but for their contributions to our country. The LGBTQ community should be an integral part of our society, and we plan to use our voice here at Netflix to make that hope a reality not merely for the countless young Gay girls and boys, but for everyone who feels they do not matter.”
Reporter: “Netflix, are you pushing a Gay agenda?”
It really is that simple.
How Netflix Is Changing the TV Industry. (2020, July 10). Retrieved from https://www.investopedia.com/articles/investing/060815/how-netflix-changing-tv-industry.asp
McCarthy, B. J. (2020, June 8). Americans Still Greatly Overestimate U.S. Gay Population. Retrieved from https://news.gallup.com/poll/259571/americans-greatly-overestimate-gay-population.aspx
Record-high percentage of LGBTQ characters on broadcast TV, report finds. (2018, October 26). Retrieved from https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/record-high-percentage-lgbtq-characters-broadcast-tv-report-finds-n924511
Netflix | Founders, History, Programming, & Facts. (2020, July 10). Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Netflix-Inc