I haven’t eaten at Chic-fil-a or Cracker Barrel for years now. I’ve never shopped at Hobby Lobby. Where once Amazon was a go-to for me, it’s not a shopping spot of last resort. Theresa and I may place orders there maybe twice a year these days.
Which is to say: Even though our paltry contribution to the bottom-lines of mega companies doesn’t twitch a nose hair on their lowest-level accountants, we’re still pretty choosy about where we spend our money. Overtly defy our values and we’re pretty well done.
Netflix has posed a problem for us lately on that front. Or perhaps it’s standing as an annoying reminder that there is no perfection. Or both.
As you likely know, last year, Netflix paid Dave Chappelle a whole lot of money for a “comedy” special that was wickedly transphobic. It was followed by an also transphobic special by Ricky Gervais. In response, Netflix CEO Ted Sarados said their “content doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”
I just. I mean. C’mon, Ted. That’s some serious word parsing there.
And so Theresa and I talked about cancelling our Netflix subscription. And still, all these months later, Theresa and I are talking about cancelling our Netflix subscription.
Here’s an example of what makes it tricky for me:
Recently, we watched the 3rd season of The Umbrella Academy. In case you’ve missed it, it’s a fantastical (and fantastic) show based on a comic book that stars (in part) Elliot Page. Between seasons two and three, Page came out as trans. The title screens of the first two seasons were immediately changed to his new name, one of the many beautiful ways that his announcement was met in the mainstream.
In the 2nd episode of the new season, Page’s character comes out as trans, becoming Viktor. It takes all of 30 seconds of airtime as his siblings process his announcement, respond in character-appropriate ways, and seamlessly transition to his new name. On they keep rolling toward their latest mission.
Would the rest of us in the real world trip over the name a dozen or two times before hitting “Viktor” seamlessly? I can tell you from personal experience that yes, yes we would. I still love how they handled it, though, from Page’s first announcement to this brief scenic addition to the episode. I dream of living in a world where a trans person comes out and everyone in their life responds somewhere on the spectrum of, “Whatever, cool,” to “Thanks for sharing with us; I’m happy for you.”
The “they” who handled it in such affirming ways? Teams at Netflix, of course. It’s a Netflix produced and released show, streamed on Netflix. It’s the same streaming service where we recently binged a show on teen boys falling in love and Sex Education with all sorts of queer relationships and so on.
Which is to say that when Ted and his team of bottom line-watchers yammer on about the diversity of their viewers and providing something for everyone, they’re not being dishonest… and they’re letting us know that they’re happy to take money from whoever wants to dish it out.
Right now, that includes us. But the debate continues.
I f you are curious about the practices and support that provide brave space and thoughtful guidance on a path to living more of your values in this complex world, I’d love to talk with you about coaching.