Big corporations like the NBA and Blizzard Entertainment have been struggling to square their woke politics at home with their silence on human rights abroad. Video streaming service Netflix is now also on the verge of displaying a very similar kind of hypocrisy.
A few months ago, Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, announced the company might pull its productions out of Georgia because the state had passed a pro-life heartbeat law. Furthermore, he promised Netflix would work with the ACLU to fight the law in court. Here’s the NY Times report from May:
If unchallenged, the law will go into effect in January 2020. Should that happen, Netflix, which has productions in the state including the series “Stranger Things” and “Ozark,” along with the coming film “Holidate,” is suggesting it might consider boycotting, too.
“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Sarandos said in a statement released Monday, and first reported by Variety. “It’s why we will work with the A.C.L.U. 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.”
Today, CNN Business reports that Netflix’s stand on abortion won’t play as well in some of the foreign locations where it is now producing shows. So the question is whether CNN will decide to stay silent on abortion when it does work abroad:
The company has been expanding its global footprint to places like the Middle East, where abortion access is restricted. Eventually, it will have a choice to make: does it apply those values consistently, or risk looking hypocritical? Netflix declined to make Sarandos available for an interview with CNN Business. But some think a strong stance in Georgia could put pressure on the company to apply the same standards globally…
Even as it was putting out the statement about Georgia’s heartbeat law, it announced a new show that would film in Egypt, which outlaws abortion unless a woman’s life is at risk. It also has two original series filmed in Jordan, which severely restricts abortion rights as well.
If the Georgia law eventually goes into effect and Sarandos and Netflix make good on the threat to pull out of the state, the company could open itself up to criticism for staying in regions like the Middle East. How will it draw those lines? Netflix did not respond for a request for comment on that question.
“As we get into Netflix being available around the world, we get into human rights issues,” Hardart said. “Georgia is a microcosm of what will happen around the world.”
The Georgia heartbeat law was set to take effect on January 1, 2020, but a judge has blocked it. That was considered a win by Planned Parenthood and, presumably, by Netflix. But Planned Parenthood isn’t opening abortion clinics in Egypt or Jordan. Netflix is filming shows there. So will the company attempt to pressure those governments as well or is this another case where woke politics stops at the border?
The fact that Netflix’s Sarandos isn’t interested in answer questions about it suggests to me he is probably watching the meltdown at the NBA and Blizzard Entertainment and has decided not to volunteer for the same treatment. But they can’t dodge the question forever. It’s absurd that major companies have to issue what amounts to foreign policy statements now, but that seems like an inevitable outcome when woke politics becomes a corporate focus.