Another day and another conflict between a group of people and a streaming service for their content. Long gone are the days when protecting your children was the job of solely the parent. Now, the job of protecting children has fallen on groups calling for exclusion and censorship. It seems we are routinely bombarded with stories from one group or another calling for the boycott of one streaming service because they are apparently endangering children or other groups. The newest target for attack from angry viewers is Disney+.
The Parents Television and Media Council (PTC) is calling out Disney+ for the inclusion of TV-MA and R-rated content. The group’s ire is primarily in response to the announcement of the arrival of films from the Twentieth Century Fox Film acquisition. Mainly Logan and Deadpool, which break the PG-13 mark traditionally held by Disney+. This isn’t the first time the group has gone after Disney+; earlier this year, they showed their ire that the streaming service announced they would include the TV-MA Netflix collection of series that included the dark and brooding Marvel shows. While fans applauded the long-awaited arrival of Daredevil, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, The Punisher, and The Defenders, parents were now burdened with policing what their children watched on the usual safe streaming service.
The president of the PTC, Tim Winter, pointed to a promise Disney made never to include R-rated films a few years ago. He said the family-focused platform would keep its R-rated content on Hulu and leave Disney+ with a PG-13 ceiling, keeping it safe for children of all ages. Winter also said this move violates the trust of the conservative families that Disney’s fortune is built on. He even makes the premonition that business schools will study this decision when they are learning what happened to the “once great Disney.”
Conservative groups aren’t the only ones who go after streaming services for their content. Last year, LGBTQ+ advocates targeted Netflix for the content they claimed was harmful to the trans community. The anger centered around a Dave Chappelle comedy special, The Closer, that they felt crossed the line of comedy and into the area of transphobia. Netflix ultimately stood behind Chappelle and its content, claiming they have content for all audiences.
At the end of the day, streaming services find themselves caught in the middle of a cultural war between the two sides of the social aisle. While the liberal side points to white-washing and homophobic content being harmful to marginalized communities, the conservative side believes there is an attack on children, indoctrinating them into hedonistic lifestyles. The goal of both sides seems to be the same, the censorship of any content they deem to be against their beliefs. But how far can/should these movements go? Where do we as a culture draw the line between protecting those needing protection and censoring any speech we don’t believe goes along with our ideals? At what point do we have to return the onus of protecting our children to parents?