Netflix’s woke purge: Troubled streaming giant’s latest layoffs targeted 150 staff who were among its most vocal social justice warriors working on original content about marginalized communities
- Netflix laid of 150 employees on Tuesday, many of whom were working on creating and promoting projects focusing on marginalized communities
- The struggling streaming giant claimed the layoffs were carried out amid ‘a slow down in revenue and decline in subscribers,’ but many slammed the company for firing many people of color and women
- The layoffs once again targeted members of Tudum, it’s content arm comprised of mostly women of color, after laying off dozens from the department in April
- Netflix additionally fired nearly 70 employees working for its social media and publishing teams, including Strong Black Lead, Golden, Con Todo and Most, all that catered to marginalized communities
Netflix’s recent axing of 150 staff targeted many of the firm’s wokest workers who are prolific social justice warriors on social media.
The struggling streaming service has pulled the plug on several projects that were aimed at discussing race and LGBTQ issues, Variety reported, and axed the diverse employees working on and promoting them.
In addition to the layoffs, the company also fired nearly 70 employees working for its social media and publishing teams focused on marginalized communities.
They included Strong Black Lead, the Asian American-focused Golden, the Latino-focused Con Todo, and the LGBTQ-focused Most.
Netflix claimed its latest layoffs were due to ‘a slow down in revenue and decline in subscribers.’ But they represented just 150 of the firm’s 11,000 staff, sparking speculation that a purge of meddlesome woke staff was afoot.
Among the newly fired were Olivia Truffaut-Wong and Lydia Wang, who slammed the streaming giant for axing them and their colleagues.
‘I was also laid off by Netflix today,’ Wang tweeted on Tuesday. ‘I really loved my job and my colleagues and I am a little heartbroken!’
Truffaut-Wong also wrote on Tuesday: ‘OK, yes, I am one of the Tudum layoffs (lol). I did a lot of work I’m proud of, met a lot of really awesome writers and editors, and made great friends. It’s the cycle of media life!’
H. Drew Blackburn, another laid off employee, recalled the turbulent saga where he did not know whether or not he had a job or not.
Among the newly fired were Olivia Truffaut-Wong (left) and Iydia Wang (right), who worked for Netflix’s Tudum, it’s content arm comprised of mostly women of color. The department had been hit with layoffs three weeks ago
‘An editor at Netflix’s little Tudum project just called me offering me a job with Tudum again,’ Blackburn tweeted after he was fired. ‘Then called me back 20 mins later to say they had the wrong Drew. Bright minds over there for sure.’
Tudum is Netflix’s marketing website which offered fans more in-depth information about its shows. Most of its employees were women and people from minority groups.
Netflix’s move also drew backlash form media critics and other animators who slammed the streaming company for leaving its employees high and dry after previously preaching the need to have a more diverse workforce.
Filmmaker Carly Usdin called Netflix ‘a joke’ and tweeted: ‘Uhhh is netflix only laying off the teams associated with making and promoting content for marginalized viewers?? that’s what it seems like.’
Karla Monterroso, who works to secure economic opportunities for women of color, tweeted: ‘Netflix hired a powerhouse team of creators from a variety of marginalized communities and they were performing exceptionally well.
‘Had us all invested in their work. They were then the first people they showed the door at the first financial difficulty.’
Matt Acuna, an animator for Bob’s Burgers, also criticized Netflix for the layoffs while taking on other projects with wealthy backers.
He tweeted: ‘What a great day for Netflix to announce they’re giving Ron Howard, a millionaire with no experience in animation, full control of an animated movie, while simultaneously snuffing out projects specifically focusing on marginalized groups. Funny timing, huh?’
The firings come after Elon Musk claimed the firm’s tanking share price was due to its content ‘being infected by the woke mind virus.’
Netflix’s show about a pregnant man, He’s Expecting, was cited as a prime example of content designed to appeal to a tiny minority that had sent viewers switching-off in their droves.
Woke staff anger at Dave Chappelle’s The Closer comedy special also illustrated the internal strife at the firm. A small but extremely vocal minority of Netflix staffers accused the streamer of ‘harming’ transgender people by letting Chappelle defend author JK Rowling unchecked.
It’s unclear if any of those staffers who protested outside the office have since been given their pink slip.
Earlier this week, Netflix announced a new crackdown on woke staff who try to interfere in shows they deem ‘harmful’ or which leave viewers feeling ‘unsafe.’
In a memo to employees following the mass layoffs, Netflix heads told their staff: ‘As employees we support the principle that Netflix offers a diversity of stories, even if we find some titles counter to our own personal values. 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’s recent layoff further targeted employees of its Tudum branch, which was predominately made up of women and people of color. The employees expressed their dismay over the firings on Twitter
Netflix has also scrapped a host of woke shows – the most famous of which is Meghan Markle’s doomed animation Pearl, about a socially-conscious girl said to have been based on Meghan herself.
Other scrapped projects included Antiracist Baby and Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You, two adaptions by Critical Race Theory expert Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, as well as a kids’ fantasy series Wings of Fire from executive producer Ava DuVernay, and the children’s film With Kind Regards From Kindergarten.
The most notable of the scrapped works was Antiracist Baby, based on Kendi’s book of the same name, which had been envisioned as a series of animated vignettes set to music and intended to explore racism in America.
Netflix had previously said that the show would ‘leverage the power of earwormy songs to empower kids and their caregivers with simple tools to uproot racism in ourselves and society.’
Also cancelled was a documentary written by Kendi, titled Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You, which was aimed at teens and young adults.
Netflix is still proceeding with a third Kendi project aimed at adults, titled Stamped From the Beginning.
Also scrapped was the kids’ fantasy series Wings of Fire, based on the book series by Tui T. Sutherland’s, which would have seen famed black filmmaker Ava DuVernay as an executive producer.
Although a fantasy story, Wings of Fire explores themes of racism and prejudice through its fictional world.
Another project, which was revealed to be a film adaption of Adam Kline’s With Kind Regard from Kindergarten, was also cancelled by Netflix.
Netflix laid of 150 employees on Tuesday, many of whom were working on creating and promoting projects focusing on marginalized communities as the streaming giant appears to shift away form ‘woke’ content
Ibram X. Kendi saw two of the three Netflix projects based on his works called off
Along with Antiracist Baby, Kendi’s Stamped book aimed at kids had its adaptation cancelled
The fantasy series Wings of Fire that tackled themes of racism was also scrapped by Netflix
Adam Kline’s With Kind Regard from Kindergarten was also cancelled by Netflix
Netflix ended the first quarter of this year with 221.6 million subscribers, slightly less than the final quarter of last year.
The company blamed the quarter-over-quarter erosion to suspension of its service in Russia due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
A drop of just 200,000 users — less than 0.1 percent of its total customer base — was enough to send Wall Street panicking when Netflix reported quarterly earnings in April.
Chief financial officer Spence Neumann said on an earnings call that Netflix would be ‘pulling back’ on spending for the next two years, while continuing to invest billions of dollars in the platform.
The Silicon Valley tech firm reported a net income of $1.6 billion in the recently ended quarter, compared to $1.7 billion in the same period a year earlier.
Netflix believes that factors hampering its growth include subscribers sharing accounts with people not living in their homes.
The streaming giant estimated that while it has nearly 222 million households paying for its service, accounts are shared with more than 100 million other households not paying subscription fees.
Netflix is testing ways to make money from people sharing accounts, such as by introducing a feature that lets subscribers pay slightly more to add other households.
Last week, Netflix dished out a new ‘culture memo’ to staff telling them if they are offended by content the company is working on, they can seek employment elsewhere.
The guidance came largely in response to workers saying they would part ways with the company if they continued to work with Dave Chappelle, whose recent specials for the streamer have caused backlash over jokes about transgender people.
How it all went wrong for Netflix: Tanking subscriber numbers, a cratering share price and never-ending fights over woke and anti-woke content
Two years after it was lauded as a darling of the pandemic, Netflix finds itself fighting for its future as it battles worsening financial problems and a series of scandals over its content.
The firm’s share price climbed to an all-time high of $690.31 per share just before Halloween 2021, as Netflix enjoyed the fruits of its subscriber bonanza triggered by the COVID pandemic.
That forced billions across the world to stay home as offices and leisure facilities closed, giving it a captive audience for its shows.
But the share price now sits at just $182.46 as of May 20. Last month, it was revealed Netflix has lost 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2022 – and that it expects to lose another million in the second quarter.
That was in marked contrast to a forecast predicting the subscription service would add 2.5 million new subscribers over the same period.
News of the subscriber slump instantly sent Netflix’s share price plunging by 25 per cent.
Many people have been turned-off by price increases that haven’t been matched by an increase in high-quality content to watch.
Netflix’s last water-cooler hit was chess drama The Queen’s Gambit, which debuted in October 2020.
The streamer has developed a reputation for churning out low-quality originals condemned by many as little better than the cheesy movies screened by Lifetime.
It has struggled to shake its reputation for mediocre quality despite spending tens of millions on content, and charging viewers up to $15.49 a month for the ‘pleasure’ of watching it.
The California-headquartered streamer has now slashed spending on shows in a bid to shore-up its finances. Among the victims of the purge are Meghan Markle, whose planned cartoon Pearl was canned.
Pearl was aimed at telling the story of important female figures through history by a plucky young girl, widely believed to have been based on the Duchess herself.
Meghan and Harry are now said to be filming a reality show for the streamer, who are likely to want juicy content in return for the $120m deal they’re said to have struck with the renegade royal couple.
Netflix has also found itself at the center of culture war issues. It was blasted by anti-woke campaigners over shows such as He’s Expecting, about a man who gets pregnant.
And its decision to commission comedian Dave Chappelle’s The Closer special sparked fury among some in the LGBT community over Chappelle’s jokes about transgender people, and his defense of author JK Rowling.
She’s been branded a transphobe for insisting biological sex exists, and for arguing that trans women should not be granted access to some female-only spaces such as domestic abuse shelters and prisons.
The Closer prompted a small walkout and groveling apology from CEO Ted Sarandos for causing ‘pain’ to staff.
But Netflix now appears to have toughened its stance on woke moaning.
Bosses released a memo earlier this week warning staff that they may have to work on shows whose content they find ‘harmful’ – and that they should look elsewhere for a job if they can’t handle it.
The axing of 150 marketing staff has sparked claims Netflix is trying to root out some of its most vocal woke busybodies to smooth its path to future success – although the streamer still faces an uphill struggle to regain its former glory.