Netflix’ release of the controversial French movie “Cuties” has sparked accusation that the movie promotes or tolerates pedophilia. The furor is mainly on the political right, but opinions do not break entirely along ideological lines. For example, Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s daughter Christine Pelosi told Netflix that the movie “hypersexualizes girls my daughter’s age, no doubt to the delight of pedophiles like the ones I prosecuted.” Christine Pelosi is a former prosecutor.
Last month, and before the movie’s release, Netflix said it was “deeply sorry” and apologized for the “inappropriate artwork” used to promote the release of the movie. But the International Movie Data Base (IMDb) still placed a “severe” parental warning on the movie last week, saying that scenes in the movie are “lawfully defined as pedophilia.” IMDb later “edited” their trigger warning in Netflix’ favor.
Netflix may have thought it finally turned the corner on this controversy, but today Variety Magazine reported a 700% increase in Netflix subscription cancellations since “Cuties” premiered.
However, as the saying goes: when it rains, it pours…and “Cuties” isn’t Netflix’s only content problem. Or only credibility problem.
Netflix’ recent series “Immigration Nation” was not well-received by some, or by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The federal agency had given the series’ directors unprecedented access to their operations. The series’ co-director Shaul Schartz said ICE gave them “such unique access into different units around the country.”
However, the chumminess ended when ICE saw how the directors were putting the footage together. Schwartz directed the series together with his girlfriend, co-director Christina Clusiau.
ICE argues that the series misrepresentated facts and “the true nature of events.” For example, in episode 3 of the series, a politician is shown telling ICE Public Affairs Director Bryan Cox that “criminal offenses” range from murder to jaywalking. The offense of a “busted tail light” was also mentioned, suggesting that someone could be deported over a busted tail light or jaywalking. Cox was not shown correcting this patently false claim, so we reached out to Cox for comment.
“I am glad you chose to use the phrase ‘not shown correcting her’ rather than making the assumption that I did not correct her simply because it’s not shown in the video,” Cox told the Guardian. “I did correct that false allegation, and my response was cut from the finished product. Sadly, this pattern of deceptive edits to misrepresent the true nature of events is what this show seems to do continually.”
Cox went on to say that “the only things that count as crimes in ICE arrest stats are criminal offenses for which persons were actually arrested — not infractions [such as jaywalking or a busted tail light]. The agency’s arrest stats do not include infractions, and the producers recorded me explaining this in detail.”
“You’d have to ask them why they chose to exclude me answering the question,” Cox continued.
“We have no beef with the boots on the ground,” series co-director Schwarz told the Los Angeles Times in an interview last month. “We don’t think the show portrays ICE in a way that mischaracterizes them. If we wanted to just do a gotcha, we could have done a lot more, to be honest. ”
The stunning admission from Schwartz that the Immigration Nation director didn’t “just want to do a gotcha” should be borne in mind by all watching “Immigration Nation.” The provably false representations of fact in the series only adds to the impression that the series is a hit job.
The timing of the release also raises the question whether the directors or Netflix wanted to influence the presidential election. The directors clearly have a bias, evidenced in part by the fact that they also told the LA Times that they “realize that they [ICE agents] are in a tough position under this administration to do their job.” Given that Trump has deported 33% fewer people than Obama during the same time, it is unclear why the ICE agents “are in a tough position under this administration.”
Between “Immigration Nation” and “Cuties” and other Netflix content issues, Netflix viewers have to be on guard and check all claims for accuracy. Or they could just take an easier path and cancel their subscription.
As the famous composite below of soldiers helping an enemy soldier shows, the actual truth (the middle photo) can be cropped in a way to manipulate your thinking. Is that what Netflix is trying to do? Netflix and its series directors can choose to inform, but are they choosing to propagandize instead?
As always….the Guardian reports and our readers decide. Like our Facebook page to find out when we publish articles.