Netflix, a staple of at-home entertainment, continues to see exponential growth during COVID-19—now surpassing 200 million subscribers across the globe. While the streaming platform provides hours of entertainment with both existing and original programming, a Netflix subscription also includes sexually graphic and degrading content.
Netflix may “entertain the world,” but they’ll go as far as sexualizing minors to do so.
Help us call on Netflix to 1) Remove content that sexualizes minors or glorifies sexual violence; and 2) Stop producing and promoting sexually explicit material!
Improvements in 2020
In the past year, Netflix has made significant improvements, such as updating and strengthening parental controls and increasing the age rating on app stores to 12+. The improvements to its parental controls now include setting pin-features to access specific profiles, while modifying the rating on app stores gives much more power to adults about what content is appropriate for the youth in their life to consume.
However, while improved parental controls and modified app rating have made the platform safer for children and families, there is still an abundance of content hosted and produced by Netflix that is harmful to minors and that normalizes sexual violence and the commercial sexual exploitation industry.
Increasing Harmful Depictions of Child Sexual Exploitation
Besides the unnecessary inserting of graphic sex scenes into mainstream entertainment, Netflix has increasingly allowed harmful depictions of child sexuality or sexual exploitation.
This past year, the film Cuties garnered major attention from viewers and media. Cuties is just one of thousands of films Netflix hosts, though it is a thorough representation of the sexualization of minors that happens on the platform.
While the film and its director had the intention to portray real and lived experiences of coming to terms with sexuality in a hypersexualized culture, in the pursuit of these themes, the content itself fed into a vicious cycle of the hypersexualization of minors, employing minors to take part in scripted sexual exploitation. The exploitation of young actors could likely affect them for a lifetime.
Production and Promotion of Sexually Explicit Material
Currently, Netflix provides over 300 original productions, ranging from serious dramas, laugh-out-loud comedies, and even animation. Most of Netflix’s most popular (and most heavily-advertised) original shows are rated TV-MA (mature audiences only) frequently containing graphic sex scenes, nudity, and violence. However, Netflix shows consistently portray literally thousands of instances of gratuitous nudity, graphic sexual acts, and even graphic depictions of sexual assault. Researchers at NCOSE recently looked into 10 of the top original Netflix titles and found that 9 out of 10 featured graphic on-screen sex scenes.
By depicting these issues so graphically it both increases the likelihood that a victim of past assault will be negatively triggered by the content, and it decreases the likelihood that viewers will thoughtfully analyze the harms of sexual exploitation. It would be easy for Netflix to portray the harms of sexual violence or lack of sexual consent without simultaneously “profiting” from a sexually objectifying and voyeuristic motif.
Solutions to Move Forward
Netflix can still make changes to mitigate against the use of their platform in ways that foster and perpetuate sexual harms and put the most vulnerable populations at even greater risk.
1) Remove content that sexualizes minors or glorifies sexual violence
ACTION: Call on Netflix to remove Cuties
2) Stop producing and promoting sexually explicit material!
ACTION: Email Netflix and ask them to more closely review original content for sexually gratuitous material
Email Netflix Executives
Netflix has apologized for the cover image for ‘Cuties’ and changed the inappropriate photo of 11-year old girls, but they do not plan to stop hosting the film altogether.
Help us call on Netflix to remove this harmful content!
Share on Social Media – Netflix
Corporations like Netflix pay a lot of attention to social media to monitor their reputation. You can help take action on social media:
- Tweet at Netflix! Here are some pre-written tweets you can share with a click.
- Share Graphics! Here are some graphics you can easily share on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Google Plus.
- Share Blogs! Click here to see all of our blogs on Netflix, and feel free to share them with friends or on social media.
Netflix Parental Controls
While there are some flaws to the Netflix parental controls, it is still important to take advantage of the controls that Netflix does provide.
Protected: Stay updated on these projects
Share Your Story
It can be painful to share stories of sexual exploitation or harm, and sometimes it’s useful to focus on personal healing first. But for many, sharing their past or current experiences may be a restorative and liberating process. This is a place for those who want to express their story.
Streaming giant Netflix’s tagline is “we want to entertain the world”—and now with over 200 million subscribers in reported at the beginning of 2021, Netflix certainly boasts a global reach. However, this massive streaming platform is also glorifying and enabling exploitation to the world. Netflix landed spots on the National Center on Sexual Exploitation 2019…
February 9, 2021 is the global observance of Safer Internet Day. Safer Internet Day focuses on the idea that everyone plays an important role in making the internet better. To protect children online, and create a space where all are free from the harms of sexual abuse and exploitation, we all—families, corporations, governments—play an important…
Washington, DC (October 7, 2020) – The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) applauded the indictment of Netflix by a grand jury in Tyler County, Texas, for the “promotion of lewd visual material depicting [a] child,” in the film, Cuties. “It is time for Netflix to be held to account for providing a platform for…
Washington, DC (September 11, 2020) – The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) called out Netflix for providing a platform to a film, Cuties, that has permitted the sexual exploitation of children. “Netflix wants to have its cake and eat it too: it’s underwriting a coming-of-age story by a woman of color, which is laudable,…
Newsweek: ‘#CancelNetflix Is Valid’: The National Center on Sexual Exploitation Weighs in on ‘Cuties’
Originally Published at Newsweek By James Crowley Cuties director Maïmouna Doucouré spoke about how young girls are exposed to overly sexualized women in an interview, called “Why I Made Cuties,” that was released on YouTube on Wednesday, as part of Netflix’s “Film Club” series. “Our girls see that the more a woman is overly sexualized on social…