Netflix has announced that it will not include portrayals of smoking or e-cigarette use in new TV shows rated TV-14 or lower, or movies rated PG-13 and below. The PTC applauds this decision — with caveats.
Speaking to Variety, a Netflix spokesperson said, “Netflix strongly supports artistic expression. We also recognize that smoking is harmful and when portrayed positively on screen can adversely influence young people.”
“Netflix is publicly admitting that its program content can adversely impact young people, and they’re taking positive steps to do something about it. Kudos to Netflix for finally connecting those two dots. But why would they stop at tobacco use when the National Institutes for Health has recently linked their program content to a spike in children committing suicide? Why is artistic expression more important to Netflix when a teenager slits her wrists than when she puffs on a cigarette?” said PTC President Tim Winter.
“We applaud Netflix for making a positive, responsible decision for children and families by eliminating tobacco use from programming rated as appropriate for children. While this is a good example of an entertainment company using its vast influence to protect children from potential harm, we cannot help but point out the blatant double-standard in its refusal to remove other harmful content from its distribution platform – especially when that content is directly, intentionally and knowingly marketed to children.
“Make no mistake, this announcement by Netflix is a step in the right direction. But it is a baby step when a giant leap is what’s needed. Surely Netflix cares as much about how its programs can adversely influence children to commit suicide as it rightly does about child tobacco use. The same rationale should hold true for depicting a boy being sodomized with a broken mop handle, for glamorizing underage drinking and drug use, and for the grotesque sexualization of children.
“We call on Netflix to commit fully to its newfound sense of corporate responsibility, and to cease distribution of toxic content that is increasingly found in its youth-targeted shows.”