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9 Times Netflix Sparked Controversy With Their Content
In this photo illustration a Netflix logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Filip Radwanski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Filip Radwanski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Since their September release of “Cuties,” a coming-of-age drama by a French director about an 11-year-old girl who rebels against her conservative Muslim parents by performing in a sexually provocative dance troupe with other young girls, Netflix has been at the center of a cultural firestorm.

The film has been met with widespread condemnation not just from Netflix customers, who have taken to cancelling their subscriptions en masse, but also from lawmakers such as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN), who have called on the Department of Justice to level criminal charges against Netflix for distributing child pornography.

The “Cuties” debacle, however, is simply the latest in a long string of controversies that have plagued the company over the years because of some of its content, which some see as an attempt to mock God, debauch young people, and push a left-wing political agenda.

1. “Suicide Contagion”: Teen Suicides Spike After “13 Reasons Why”

One of the most prominent of Netflix’s controversies was perhaps the fallout from its 2017 series “13 Reasons Why,” which many parents said glorified one of the main character’s decision to commit suicide after she was bullied and sexually assaulted.

According to a study from Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the National Institutes of Health, the show might have led to the uptick in teen suicides in the wake of the show’s release. According to CNN, teen suicides spiked 28.9% in the month after it came out. NPR reported that “the number of suicides was greater than that seen in any single month over the five-year period researchers examined. Over the rest of the year, there were 195 more youth suicides than expected given historical trends.”

As The Daily Wire reported:

The author of the study explained to CNN that “[y]outh may be particularly susceptible to suicide contagion,” and that stories that “sensationalize or promote simplistic explanations of suicidal behavior, glorify or romanticize the decedent, present suicide as a means of accomplishing a goal, or offer potential prescriptions of how-to die by suicide,” may have an amplified effect on suicide-prone young adults.

“The creators of the series intentionally portrayed the suicide of the main character. It was a very graphic depiction of the suicide death,” he added.

2. “Sex Junk” And “Butt Stuff”: Bill Nye’s Show Scoffs At Heterosexual Monogamy While Pushing Gender Fluidity

Bill Nye the Science Guy’s since-discontinued show “Bill Nye Saves the World” purported to “[explore] various problems and misconceptions from a scientific point of view,” according to the IMDb.

In a 2017 episode that was nominated for an Emmy, Nye explored the intricacies of sexuality, claiming it exists on a spectrum and explaining via a cartoon about ice cream cones that denying one’s sexual urges because of religion is laughable.

Later on in the episode, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” star Rachel Bloom performed a musical number that attempted to offer insight into the sexuality spectrum, her talking vagina, “sex junk,” and “butt stuff.”

As The Daily Wire reported:

In the Emmy-nominated episode, Bloom, dressed in a tight black leotard with shoulder pads and sparkly purple lightening-like stripes, opens the song by singing about her vagina’s voice. Really Emmy-worthy stuff.

“My vagina has its own voice / Not vocal cords, a metaphorical voice / Sometimes I do a voice for my vagina,” she sings.

Getting more scientific, Bloom continues: “Versatile love may have some butt stuff / It’s evolution, ain’t nothing new / There’s nothing taboo about a sex stew.”

“Sexuality’s a spectrum,” she sings. “Everyone is on it / Even you might like it if you sit up on it / Drag queen, drag king, just do what feels right.”

Over and over, Bloom reminds the audience that her “sex junk is so oh, oh, oh much more than either or, or, or.”


3. “Misgendering Is Traumatic”: Reboot Of “The Baby-Sitters Club” Debuts Transgender 9-Year-Old

Earlier this year, Netflix rebooted “The Baby-Sitters Club,” which was a popular series of children’s books that became a TV show in 1990 for Nickelodeon. In the Netflix variation, however, a 9-year-old boy who identifies as a girl offers one of the young characters the opportunity to scold adults for not being more understanding of the child’s identity.

As The Daily Wire reported:

According to Christian Headlines, the new show, which has been labeled TV-G, takes a dramatic woke turn in episode 4 when the character Mary Anne is asked to babysit a “girl” named Bailey.

“In episode 4, Mary Anne – one of the five sitters – is asked by a child’s mother to keep a little girl named Bailey,” reported the outlet. “Mary Anne and Bailey hold a tea party in Bailey’s room, and when Bailey spills water on her pink dress, Mary Anne opens the little girl’s closet to get a change of clothes. But she only finds boys’ clothes.”

Bailey tells the perplexed Mary Anne that the boys’ clothes were his old clothes. In voiceover, Mary Anne says, “That’s when I understood: Bailey was a little girl and her new clothes help people see it.”

In a July 23 tweet thread promoting the show, the official Netflix account disseminated clips from it and warned their viewers against misgendering. “When Bailey comes down with a fever, Mary Anne rushes her to the hospital, where two doctors misgender her,” one of the tweets read. “Mary Anne firmly corrects them. Misgendering is traumatic. This is one of the baseline ways cisgender people can show up for the trans people in their life[.]”


4. “First Kid I Met That’s A Top“: Transgender Child In RuPaul Movie

Transgender children have been a recurring theme for Netflix, and a particularly notable example was featured in RuPaul’s 2020 Netflix movie “AJ and the Queen.” The film’s story is about a 10-year-old girl named AJ who accompanies Robert, played by RuPaul, to various drag shows across the country, most of which take place at gay bars. AJ, whose mother is a drug-addicted prostitute, wants to be a boy “because people leave boys alone.”

As NewsBusters reported, “The show is one long exposure of this child to sexualized adult situations in which she does not belong, all under the guise of the drag queen and the child ‘bonding’ cross-country.”

In one episode of the series, AJ and RuPaul’s character interact backstage with other drag queens, one of whom is laughingly scolded for “[tucking] in your junk in front of a minor.” That character later refers to 10-year-old AJ as the “first kid I met that’s a top,” which is a term used to describe the penetrative partner during gay sex.

5. Netflix Canada Encourages Young People To Get Sex Ed From “American Pie”

After Ontario repealed a sex education program curriculum that “introduces homosexuality in Grade 3, masturbation in Grade 6, oral and anal sex in Grade 7, and teaches there are six genders — male, female, two-spirited, transgender, transsexual and intersex — rather than two biological sexes,” according to LifeSiteNews, Netflix Canada urged young people to learn about sex from the R-rated raunchy “American Pie” movies.

“[S]ince the Ontario sex-ed curriculum has gone back in time, you can ‘learn’ about sex the way teens in the ’90s did: all the American Pie movies are now on Netflix,” the official account tweeted.

“‘American Pie’ takes sex and turns it into a sport,” according to PluggedIn. “Oral sex is lumped together with masturbation as ‘practice for the big game.’ Both are encouraged by the only two parental figures in the film. Pornography is presented as healthy for a boy’s development and exciting to look at for girls. Voyeurism and invasion of privacy are winked at. The makers of this film would have you believe that sex is the ‘holy grail’ of teenage experiences. Unfortunately, a lot of teens are going to eat that message up. ‘American Pie’ should really be retitled ‘American Porn.'”

6. “Story Of Inclusion And Acceptance”: G-Rated Nickelodeon Cartoon Reboot Features Trans Toad

Netflix’s 2019 reboot of a Nickelodeon cartoon popular in the 1990s contained yet another transgender story arc.

As The Daily Wire reported:

The overwrought wallaby, the derelict steer, and the paranoid turtle are back following a 23-year hiatus. “Rocko’s Modern Life,” which ended its run on Nickelodeon in 1996, returned to Netflix this Friday as a 45-minute special — only this one comes with a helpful serving of social justice with the inclusion of a transgender story arc.

In “Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling,” a toad character named Ralph Bighead transitions to Rachel Bighead, which the show’s creators use as a springboard to instruct their G-rated audience in what they believe is the proper way to treat a friend who is trans.

“When I started writing [Static Cling], I really started latching onto the idea of change and how society has changed and what’s gone on in the last 20 years and the development of our characters and how they would react to change,” show creator Joe Murray told Entertainment Weekly (EW). “It felt natural, because it was not only about change, about somebody finding who they are and making that courageous choice to go through that change.”

The show consulted Nick Adams, GLAAD’s director of transgender representation, who told EW, “‘Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling’ tells a beautiful — and hilarious — story about accepting change. The younger characters accept Rachel immediately; recognizing she’s still their friend. And while Rachel’s father is slow to accept change within his own family, even he realizes that loving your child should be unconditional. This story of inclusion and acceptance is so needed in our current climate.”

7. “Baby Killing Makes Me Horny”: Cartoon Sings About Abortion And Mocks Pro-Life Legislation

Characters from its cartoon series “BoJack Horseman,” which ran from 2014 to 2020, made light of abortion during an episode in 2016, as Life News laid out.

During one scene, an expectant couple comprised of a human and a golden retriever visit a “Planned Parrothood” to get an abortion, during which the doctor says, “By law I have to tell you that at one month your puppies have a favorite color and that color may be blue. Also, before your procedure, you’ll have to watch 20 hours of cute puppy videos as Sarah McLachlan’s ‘I Will Remember You’ plays softly.”

A dolphin character named Sextina later sings a song called “Get Dat Fetus, Kill Dat Fetus,” which features coat hanger battleships and opens with the line “I’m a baby killer, baby killing makes me horny.”

A blue whale news anchor, voiced by former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, also brings on a character who mocks Christians, saying he heard from the Bible that “if a woman really has an unwanted pregnancy, the body has a way to break the fetus down into gas particles and then she can just fart it out.”

8. “This Should Not Be Anyone’s Idea Of Entertainment”: Movie About Sex Trafficking Triggers Abuse Victims

The movie “365 Days” sparked outrage this summer when the so-called Polish erotic thriller depicted a girl who was kidnapped by a mafia boss, imprisoned, and given 365 days to fall in love with him.

As USA Today reported, the movie was panned by critics and received a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but many viewers also accused it of glamorizing sexual abuse and Stockholm syndrome.

“For those who have watched it, we know he talks about child trafficking, sedates her, imprisons her, sexually assaults her, and has sexual relations with her without consent,” reads a petition calling on Netflix to remove the film. “The main character also uses abuse tactics such as gaslighting, coercion, reproductive coercion, and Stockholm Syndrome to financially, physically, sexually, emotionally, and digitally abuse the woman he had taken. To our terribly corrupt culture, it looks like another ‘steamy’ and sexy love story.”

Duffy, a Welsh singer-songwriter who went public this year about being kidnapped and raped herself, wrote in an open letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, “‘365 Days’ glamorizes the brutal reality of sex trafficking, kidnapping and rape. This should not be anyone’s idea of entertainment, nor should it be described as such, or be commercialized in this manner.”

“You have not realized how ‘365 Days’ has brought great hurt to those who have endured the pains and horrors that this film glamorizes,” Duffy continued. “What I and others who know these injustices need is the exact opposite – a narrative of truth, hope, and to be given a voice.”

The “Cuties” movie is having a similar impact on victims of sex trafficking and abuse, according to statements obtained by The Daily Wire.

Sex trafficking survivor and advocate Eliza Bleu blasted Netflix for the film, saying it triggers traumatic memories in women like her. “It takes them back to a moment when they were abused and overtly sexualized as a child,” Bleu said. “They might have to call off work the next day. They might have thoughts of suicide. Those are the real-life ramifications of that material being so open and readily available.”

The Daily Wire further reported:

In a statement to The Daily Wire, Victims Refuse Silence Vice President Teresa Helm, who has alleged that disgraced financier and convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein sexually assaulted her when she was 22, accused Netflix of sexualizing “our most impressionable, vulnerable, and most easily targeted” by marketing and releasing “Cuties.”

Helm’s own story of sexual abuse has been highlighted on Netflix in the docu-series “Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich,” which she praised for raising awareness of the process that pedophiles and sexual criminals use to groom victims. Helm said “Cuties” has done the opposite, providing pedophiles with material they can use to confuse and convince children to become unwitting victims.

“Shows such as ‘Cuties’ are dangerous and should be held accountable for the complicity of sexual exploitation and the distribution of sexual content of minors,” Helm said. “Netflix is perpetuating the supply and demand factor of sexual exploitation, abuse, and trafficking.”

9. “Sweet, Sweet Jesus Inside Me”: Jesus Christ Mocked And Sexualized

Several Netflix shows have contained content that Christians would deem overtly blasphemous, such as “The First Temptation of Christ,” a Brazilian comedy that stoked backlash last Christmas for its depiction of Jesus as gay and the Virgin Mary as a pot smoker.

The 2019 show “Insatiable” took flak from liberals for its alleged fat-shaming, but as LifeSiteNews laid out in an in-depth run-down, the series was also replete with scenes that mocked Christianity, glorified homosexuality and transgender behavior, and depicted teens engaging in sexual activity. One scene even featured girls gyrating during a light-hearted song-and-dance number about having sex with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The jingle also mocked God the Father with a variation of the word “hole.”

Currently in production for Netflix is “American Jesus,” a series about Christ being reincarnated as a 12-year-old boy who discovers “he can turn water into wine, make the crippled walk, and, perhaps, even raise the dead,” according to The Wrap.

By contrast, Netflix’s show “Lucifer” portrays Satan in a sympathetic light, depicting him as a handsome, charming man who opens a nightclub in Los Angeles. Tom Ellis, the actor who plays Lucifer, asked his fans to donate to Planned Parenthood in lieu of wedding gifts when he was married in 2019.

“What an irony,” Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, told LifeSiteNews at the time. “A Google search on the series ‘Lucifer’ reveals what it’s about in these words: ‘Lucifer, the original fallen angel … has become dissatisfied with his life in hell. After abandoning his throne and retiring to Los Angeles, Lucifer indulges in his favorite things (women, wine and song) — until a murder takes place outside of his upscale nightclub. For the first time in billions of years, the murder awakens something unfamiliar in Lucifer’s soul that is eerily similar to compassion and sympathy.'”

Related: More Than A Quarter Aged 18-24 Have ‘Seriously Considered Suicide’ In Past 30 Days, Says CDC

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  9 Times Netflix Sparked Controversy With Their Content