If you’ve been following us on social media, you may have seen a couple of posts regarding Netflix. Though the site streams several shows with mature content, one show intended to entertain its Italian market is especially egregious.
Based loosely on the account of the “Baby Squillo scandal,” the show titled “Baby” follows a group of teenagers on their quest to buck social norms. It’s a pretty predictable summary for a coming of age story, except that the social norms the teens are targeting guard against underage prostitution.
The series is characterized as “edgy” and a new take that Netflix executives love. This comes as a shock to those who have followed the recent allegations against Kevin Spacey, an early hero for the streaming service. Without hesitation, the show axed its main character when the news came out.
Our Letter to Netflix
We’ve asked Netflix to follow the same course of action for “Baby.” On National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, January 11, we sent a letter to Netflix pointing out the duality of their practices and requesting the service halt production on the show.
“Baby,” and other shows like it (I’m looking at you James Franco) perpetuate the myth that there is such a thing as “underage prostitution.” There isn’t. There are only sex-trafficked minors. Similarly, the show tries to tell a story about a young girl who uses prostitution to ‘get ahead.’ The reality is that sex-trafficked persons rarely see the profits of the transactions they’re involved in.
The letter, co-signed by 55 other organizations, survivors, and advocates inspired a considerable amount of news coverage. News outlets like Reuters, MSN, Newmax posted stories about the letter as well as entertainment news outlets like Deadline and Daily Mail.
People are interested in this story. The accusations outlined in the letter are hyper-relevant in light of the growing movement in our country to address sexual exploitation. That Netflix would remove Spacey, and then move forward with the production of a show that reframes child sex trafficking as “edgy” is unconscionable.
It’s more important now than ever to hold Hollywood and streaming services like Netflix and HBO to the higher standard they claim to hold. They need to know that viewers won’t put up shows that glamorize sexual exploitation. Learn more about our Netflix campaign here.