Netflix Reaffirms Commitment To Artistic Freedom

By on
The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles
The Netflix logo is seen on their office in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. July 16, 2018.

For the first time in five years, Netflix updated its culture memo on Thursday. The memo highlights the company's commitment to artistic expression even when that expression might cause "perceived" offense.

Variety obtained the Netflix Culture document which updates sections and adds an Artistic Expression portion. In them, the company called on employees of the company to accept "diversity of stories."

"Depending on your role, you may need to work on titles you perceive to be harmful. If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you," Netflix said to its current or potential employees.

This new section also calls on users to deal with the fact that some content may be objectionable to them. However, the streaming service clarified that the content warnings and ratings help users navigate the platform for content they want.

"Viewers have very different tastes and points of view. So we offer a wide variety of TV shows and movies, some of which can be provocative," the new section reads.

"Not everyone will like — or agree with — everything on our service . . . we support the artistic expression of the creators we choose to work with; we program for a diversity of audiences and tastes, and we let viewers decide what’s appropriate for them," the section adds.

The release of the memo comes after controversies surrounding Dave Chappelle's "The Closer." In the special, Chappelle made jokes about the trans community that was objectionable.

Those jokes caused outrage as Netflix fought walkouts from employees in protest of the comedian's special. CEO Ted Sarandos famously defended Chappelle vigorously. The streaming service has repeatedly said they refuse to censor or take down content regardless of offense or public outrage.

Updates to the document also included a new section about leaking company data even when it is not marked confidential. Last year a Netflix employee leaked financial data to Bloomberg. The data compared the cost of Netflix's world-renowned thriller "Squid Game" and Dave Chappelle's special. It revealed that streamers paid more for Chappelle than "Squid Game."

The updated document also called on employees to "spend our members' money wisely." Netflix recently reported a Q1 decline in subscribers. That is the streaming service's first in more than a decade.


Netflix's building in Los Angeles, California; a shareholder has filed a class action lawsuit against the streaming company, which reported a dip in subscribers for the first three months of 2022
Netflix's building in Los Angeles, California; a shareholder has filed a class action lawsuit against the streaming company, which reported a dip in subscribers for the first three months of 2022
Photo: AFP / Robyn Beck

Join the Discussion