According to one opinion writer for USA Today, Netflix can’t be trusted. In an op-ed piece recently published, contributor Tim Winter writes that Netflix has turned its back on families. He sites lack of family content apart from an occasional show that he claims is meant to simply appease families and maintain contact. He goes on to suggest that Netflix is part of the problem for the sexual devolution of our society (pedophilia, sexual assault, etc.) and instead they need to adjust in order to be part of the solution (1). As a result of this analysis, he warns families of the need to disengage with Netflix and instead search for a more family-friendly streaming service.
The analysis provided by Winter should provoke an intense consideration by viewers about the content they take in. With Netflix he cites specifically two instances that should concern people: “13 Reasons Why”, which caused alarm for its propagation of suicide, and “Desire” ridiculed for its underage sexual content. Our family dropped our subscription to Netflix quite some time ago for a number of reasons, as a result, my information about Netflix and its programs at this point is not firsthand. Therefore, to criticize Netflix would not be fair on my part. However, the concerns raised in the editorial article by Tim Winter warrant discussion and demonstrate some aspects about our society.
The size of some of the streaming services available, such as Amazon, Hulu, Netflix, and Youtube TV gives them these media conglomerates massive authority. A look at the celebrities willing to engage with these organizations demonstrates their capacity in the industry. There are two areas of impact worth noting:
The Ability to Control Content: First, the size of the corporations allows them to control the content they put out. While consumer interest will provide an impact, to some degree (which we will address shortly) the companies are able to produce as they desire.
The Ability to Regulate Standards: Additionally, there is an ability to lobby and influence certain societal standards solely because their size gives them money and a voice to influence.
The Ability to Influence Viewers: Finally, the ability to dictate the content that is being produced gives them the ability to influence viewers. Rather than forsake this form of entertainment, many will simply adapt to the offerings that are available.
There are other factors that can certainly impact the industry’s ability to control, regulate, and influence, so these do not stand alone. However, in light of the numbers we see, there is no denying the capability it has to impact the very direction of our society.
Fault not only lies at the feet of the industry but continues with the viewers as well and their attitude/actions demonstrate three characteristics of society:
They Choose: First, by the popularity of the programs and the willingness of the streaming services to offer a certain class of programs, it can only be understood that people are choosing them. Thus, they are approving this type of content.
They Conform: Additionally, as earlier mentioned, people simply adapt to the programs being offered. When the options are limited, rather than leave behind this form of media, they simply conform to the standards.
They Curtail: Finally, people simply curtail their disagreement. By adapting or remaining silent, those who disagree with this type of programming are not voicing the need for alternative or family-friendly programming.
Unfortunately, many are simply part of the problem by continuing to support these types of media services.
I use to be a subscriber and patron of our local theatre. I loved the theatre, between the themes, artistry, and creativity, and enjoyed being able to financially support such a group. Then they went a drastic direction. Instead of offering five Broadway touring shows every year, they decided to offer six. However, three would be considered ‘family-friendly’ according to their standard and the other three would be more risqué. As a subscriber, I went to the first one and left at intermission. I skipped the second and third one. Even the family-oriented ones were at times questionable. I not only quit subscribing, I also quit giving financial support. It was a decision I made in order to voice my displeasure with the theatre’s new direction, which is sad because they were doing a lot of other exciting things.
This article is not written to be your conscience. I cannot give you a list of shows to watch and shows not to watch. Some feel inclined towards shows that I would disapprove of and I am certain a couple of my favorites others would rebuke me for. For the most part, the shows you choose to watch are a matter of personal conviction as long as you are being guided by Scripture (obviously there are certain ones that necessitate separation). Therefore, I cannot and will not tell you what you should or should not do. However, I can give a warning: It is necessary to be on guard about the media choices we make. This means being on guard, being aware, and be willing to make those decisions.
(1) This is my summation of the article and I would urge you to read it in its full by clicking here.
Photo “Home Theatre” courtesy of user Gramophone Maryland and Flickr.