Netflix adds Black Lives Matter as a new genre after The Help concerns
"Action," "Comedies," "Dramas," and, now, "Black Lives Matter." Netflix has added BLM as one of its content genres on the streaming service.
On late Tuesday night, the company put the category under its "Genre" tab, which has a total of 24 different ways of sorting movies and TV shows. The genre will appear on the service globally.
"When we say 'Black Lives Matter,' we also mean 'Black storytelling matters,'" the company said in a tweet. "With an understanding that our commitment to true, systemic change will take time – we're starting by highlighting powerful and complex narratives about the Black experience. When you log onto Netflix today, you will see a carefully curated list of titles that only begin to tell the complex and layered stories about racial injustice and Blackness in America." A Netflix spokesperson added in a statement to EW, "The Black Lives Matter collection speaks to racial injustice and the Black experience in America -- and we hope that highlighting these titles can help increase empathy and understanding."
Titles include Ava DuVernay's documentary on racial inequality 13th, Spike Lee's biographical drama Malcolm X, Barry Jenkins's Oscar winner Moonlight, and former first lady Michelle Obama's documentary Becoming. The social justice category will be a permanent addition to the service, though it may eventually be housed within a broader category called Black Stories which will offer a wider array of titles.
The move was made following customers noticing the 2011 movie The Help spiked to No. 1 in the U.S. on the streaming service last Saturday as protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement continue to sweep the country.
Some have criticized The Help, which follows the experiences of black housemaids, as focusing on a "white savior" character and perpetuating Hollywood stereotypes. Star Viola Davis said in 2018 that she regretted her role in the movie. And actress Bryce Dallas Howard, who also appeared in the film, suggested people watch something else instead.
"I’ve heard that #TheHelp is the most viewed film on Netflix right now!" she wrote on Instagram. "I’m so grateful for the exquisite friendships that came from that film -- our bond is something I treasure deeply and will last a lifetime. This being said, The Help is a fictional story told through the perspective of a white character and was created by predominantly white storytellers. We can all go further."
By adding the BLM category, Netflix is making it easier to find films that tell racial justice stories (The Help is not one of the films featured).
It's unclear if the category is a permanent addition to the genre list or temporary due to the subject's topicality (it's listed first on the genre list and not in alphabetical order like the others). Netflix did not immediately reply when asked for clarity.
Also Wednesday, Netflix has reportedly removed four comedy shows featuring outspoken Australian performer Chris Lilley from its service in Australia and New Zealand. Lilley’s work has previously been called racially insensitive.
To help combat systemic racism, please consider donating to these organizations:
- Campaign Zero, which is dedicated to ending police brutality in America through research-based strategies.
- Color of Change, which works to move decision makers in corporations and government to be more responsive to racial disparities.
- Equal Justice Initiative, which provides legal services to people who have been wrongly convicted, denied a fair trial, or abused in state jails and prisons.