My Netflix subscription is among my guilty pleasures. I don’t feel good providing funding for Obama’s political payback and a company that appointed Susan Rice to its board strikes me as ethically challenged. But watching the Netflix series Ozark makes me quickly forget about my compromises supporting the entertainment network.
I’m in the midst of watching the latest season of Ozark, which a friend alerted me had become available. It’s rare for me to get really jazzed about a television show, but Ozark easily is among the greatest series ever produced. The acting, the dialogue, the direction, and the originality of the plot are unrivaled, and the show instantly distracts from all that ails me. Ozark is Starkman Approved, a highly coveted designation in my little corner of west Los Angeles.
I’ve always perceived Netflix as a wokester corporation, a place I wouldn’t feel comfortable working for fear of possibly looking at someone the wrong way. But to the company’s credit, it didn’t cave when a contingent of wokesters demanded the network remove comedian Dave Chappelle’s The Closer, which had some references that offended employees he referred to as the alphabet people. Chappelle also is Starkman Approved, although The Closer was far from his best work.
In what strikes me as one of the most monumental HR shifts in modern times, Netflix has let its wokester employees know they’ll no longer receive the kid gloves treatment the next time they whine about content not to their liking. Netflix doesn’t mince words about its intolerance of those who refuse to tolerate diverse programming. In its updated “Netflix Culture” manifesto the company warns that it will not “censor specific artists or voices” even if employees consider the content “harmful.”
“If you find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you,” the manifesto states.
‘We Aren’t Family‘
Netflix has also abandoned another widely preached message among U.S. corporations, the disingenuous claim they regard employees as “family.”
“We model ourselves on being a professional sports team, not a family,” the manifesto states. “A family is about unconditional love. A dream team is about pushing yourself to be the best possible teammate, caring intensely about your team, and knowing that you may not be on the team forever. Dream teams are about performance, not seniority or tenure.”
To paraphrase President John F. Kennedy, Netflix has instructed its employees, “Ask not what Netflix can do for you — ask what you can do for Netflix.”
Netflix’s “our way or the highway” warning is a game changer in the entertainment and technology industries and possibly all corporate America. For quite some time, Hollywood and Silicon Valley have allowed employees to tell managements how to run their companies and the policies they must follow, sometimes with disastrous results.
Disney CEO Bob Chapek is a case in point. Chapek reportedly never wanted to wade into Florida politics and pick a fight with Governor Ron DeSantis about the Sunshine State’s “Parental Rights in Education Act,” but he deferred to a minority group of employees and the corporate media in believing the legislation was homophobic and amounted to, “Don’t Say Gay.” DeSantis rewarded Chapek with a bill that abolished Disney World’s perk allowing it to essentially function as a private government, potentially costing the company tens of millions in lost savings.
Twitter Wake-Up Call
Although Elon Musk has yet – and may never – complete his acquisition of Twitter, employees at that social media company are fast learning their days of ruling the roost with censorship and trying to tip the political scales are possibly over. Top Twitter executives are already being turfed out, and hiring has been halted, eliminating one potential employment option for disgruntled Netflix workers. Given Neflix’s impressive record attracting A-team employees, it seems unlikely they’d want to poach wokester Twitter workers, given how they’ve sullied the social media’s brand and harmed their company’s financial performance.
I’m sure other industries will take notice of Netflix’s newfound HR approach. Junior bankers at Goldman Sachs might want to rethink their threats to leave Wall Street for tech because of Goldman’s demands to return full-time to the office.
Netflix is abandoning its Kumbaya days with a vengeance. As noted by Variety, the company dropped its previous written pledge to offer “a minimum of four months of full pay as a severance package, giving our ex-teammates time to find a new company.”
This previous commitment has also been eliminated: “Note that if our company experienced financial difficulty, we wouldn’t ask employees to accept less pay. A sports team with a losing record still pays top personal market for the players they hope will get them back into a winning position. On the other hand, if the company does well, our broadly distributed stock options become quite valuable.”
As well, Netflix cut these two sentences previously appearing in the company’s manifesto: “Getting cut from our team is very disappointing, but there is no shame” and “We suck compared to how great we want to become.”
Ship Run By Captains
Although Netflix has long prided itself on employee empowerment, the manifesto makes clear a coterie of Big Kahunas who know best remain in charge.
“For every significant decision, we identify an informed captain of the ship who is an expert in their area,” the manifesto says. “They are responsible for listening to other people’s views and then making a judgment call on the right way forward. We avoid decisions by committee, which would slow us down and diffuse responsibility. It is sometimes challenging and always important to agree up front who is the informed captain for a project.”
Seems to me, that Netflix co-CEOs Ted Sarandos and Reed Hastings should be referred to as co-executive captains.
I’m not a lawyer, but I wonder if Netflix’s manifesto was revised for legal reasons to make it easier to implement firings and downsizings. Netflix recently reported it expects to lose some two million subscribers this year, forcing the once high-flying company to retrench and eat some humble pie. Admitting “we suck compared to how great we want to become” might not be the best message for a jury hearing a discrimination or wrongful dismissal lawsuit.
There’s evidence that Netflix wants the abandonment of its “No more, Mr. Nice Guy,” persona publicly known. Variety boasted that it obtained a copy of Netflix’s manifesto “exclusively ahead of its release;” given that the manifesto emphasizes the confidentiality of documents, it would be insubordinate and ballsy for an employee to leak a corporate document before it was publicly available. Me thinks the leak was sanctioned by a Netflix “captain” or two.
More Wokester Backlash
There are indications of other seismic shifts in the wokester world. Writer and broadcaster Simon Fanshawe on Friday published this commentary in The Daily Mail saying that trans activists “have wrecked all the good work of the gay rights” movement he helped spearhead.
“I wish trans activists could see they don’t need to force their views on everyone else,” Fanshawe said.
No longer taking orders from employees should be good news for Disney’s Chapek, but he seems pretty adept sticking his foot in his mouth without any encouragement.
On a call with analysts last week, Chapek boasted how well Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness has performed without being released in China. The comment caught the attention of the Chinese government, which published this pointed article in the Global Times, a state propaganda organ. Let’s just say that Chapek might soon look at his Florida ordeal as the good old days.
Chapek must quickly learn that China under Xi Jinping, the country’s leader for life, is thin skinned and appreciates regular stroking and praise. Elon Musk, whose Tesla success is predicated on China’s support, knows how to play the game, as does JP Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon.
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