The latest flashpoint in America’s highly politicized culture war has centered on Netflix, one of many in a long flow of controversy surrounding streaming services and how they launch new series and movies directly into our homes.
Each streaming service has had a record year because they have been purveyors of practically endless entertainment that has been a balm for many during the pandemic. Not without contention, though. From angry outbursts due to having to wait each week for a new episode in a series to air to highly-publicized criticism for extra charges excised for the opportunity to see new movies in our homes, the environment for entertainment can be problematic—and no one is immune.
Some criticism is to be expected, of course, but it can become a red-hot object of derision for right-leaning activist groups, politicians, and QAnon followers, as it did for Netflix. The attacks are all focused on “Cuties,” a French coming-of-age film released on Netflix in early September that detractors say sexualizes young girls.
The entertainment giant quickly found itself in the crosshairs of cancel culture, with allegations of pedophilia—from people who haven’t seen the film—tied to mounting calls for subscribers to quit their service.
With #CancelNetflix trending and a firestorm of negative tweets and posts on social media, the “Cuties” controversy has become a cautionary tale for all enterprises that could face disruption or even financial damage from a sudden surge of unrestrained, atypical attacks from instigators intent on doing harm.
The Controversy Has Become an Assault On All Streaming Services
The incident involving Netflix and the release of “Cuties” generated a volume of negative attention that few enterprises could withstand for long. Whether self-inflicted or not, the collateral damage can be extensive.
The “Cuties” controversy has broadened to an assault on any entertainment that is perceived to promote the sexualization of children. First and foremost, that includes other kids dance shows and videos from major media companies. It also extends to a more sweeping vilification of American pop culture, which QAnon followers and moral watchdogs blame for robbing pre-teens and tweens of their innocence.
Teresa Huizar, executive director of the National Children’s Alliance, told Rolling Stone that the discussion around “Cuties” has been “a distraction at best and a complete disservice at worst” to those trying to help survivors of child trafficking. “It’s unhelpful when people keep bringing up rare or unlikely or completely imaginary events” such as child sex trafficking rings, “instead of focusing on what we actually know about these kids in cases and how these situations arise,” said Huizar.
Be Prepared with Early-Warning Risk Intelligence
No brand is exempt from being subject to cancel culture. Malicious group shaming on social media can spread like wildfire and catch enterprises off guard. Content and comments from an army of keyboard warriors resistant to facts and logic can cause harmful effects to business operations, market value, and brand reputation.
The rules have changed with the rise and instantaneous influence of social media. Not only is it more difficult to control the message, unknown instigators can exert a hugely disproportionate influence over your brand's reputation.
Your enterprise can be better prepared with early identification and rapid response if you find yourself at the center of a controversy on social media. When you can identify the instigators who deliberately create incidences, you can avoid a full-blown crisis and fend off a threatened boycott by countering the effects of harmful content.
Your mission-critical communications role requires that you anticipate and mitigate reputational risk. Early-warning risk intelligence allows you to quickly understand and evaluate disruptive, atypical risks so you can detect and mitigate threats and protect your brand’s reputation and market value.