The Gentile Case and Controversy? Don’t say gay? shows populist strategy

The Gentile Case and Controversy?  Don't say gay?  shows populist strategy

Recent controversies involving Netflix, Disney, Globoplay and Spotify show that a radical change is taking place. Presumably, streaming platforms are becoming the new social network and they will have to deal with difficult decisions about content and politics.

After years of being beaten and public outcry by governments and the press around the world, tech giants like Facebook, Google and Twitter have reformed content moderation and reformed their internal controls and policies. Furthermore, reforms in the control of the distribution of fake news caused social networks to lose their appeal when it comes to creating controversy or causing public outrage.

So the scapegoat and punching bag situation seems increasingly destined for the big media and streaming companies.

Populists in search of controversy

The controversy involving Danilo Gentilli and Fabio Porchat, accused of apologizing for pedophilia in Torner o Pier Aluno da Escola from the 2017 film Como, is an example of how streaming has become the target of propaganda networks.

Gentilly, a former ally of the Bolsonaro government, is now an opponent of the president and has been the target of several attacks. Much of the aggression on social media occurred without major practical consequences. So why did the outrageous allegation of pedophilia hit the pages of the press? Basically, by including Globo giants Netflix and Globoplay, well-known brands to the masses.

In addition, the discussion surrounding Gentilly’s film sparked debate over freedom of expression and censorship, two topics dear to the press.

It is worth noting that a constant presence in the media and the ability to deflect attention from governance problems is critical to the success of any politician, but especially in the case of populists. With Bolsonarismo it is no different. More newspapers discussing alleged apologies for pedophilia, fewer pages devoted to inflation, and rising prices of gasoline and gas cylinders.

don’t say gay and disney

This tendency to create controversy to distract attention is not limited to Brazil. Former US President Donald Trump was one of its pioneers on social media and made disciples around the world. That same week when the justice minister and other Brazilian officials launched a crusade to censor Gentilly’s film on the streaming platform, Disney found itself at loggerheads with populists left and right.

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Earlier in the year, Disney’s new CEO Bob Chapek defined that he would keep the media giant out of politics. The idea was to avoid controversy and focus on business, avoiding internal conflict and with politicians. The plan failed and had the opposite effect.

After Florida passed a bill called “Don’t Say Gay”, Chapek was forced to take a stand and explain why the company had not acted to prevent the law from being passed, as many politicians called on Disney. Received the grant, which employs more than 80,000 people in Florida alone. The executive said the company “loves to work behind the scenes,” which drew anger from both right and left.

The law, which is unconstitutional for many, was attacked even by US President Joe Biden. According to critics of the new law, it unfairly attacks the LGBTQIA+ community – particularly gay and trans students – and pretends to solve a problem that doesn’t exist by trying to stifle discussion of diversity in schools. Is.

Historically, Disney became a left-wing company and used its weight to influence legislation, particularly in Florida, where it is the state’s largest employer. Bob Iger, who was Disney’s CEO for 15 years before Chapek took over, is an active Democrat and already wants to run for the White House.

Iger used Disney’s weight, for example, to fight President Trump’s ban on Muslim travel in the United States and a “heartbeat” abortion law proposed by the state of Georgia.

Disney tried to stay neutral

Chapek acted with an amateurishness rarely seen in large corporations and became a punching bag. This caused anger from Disney employees and even Pixar, Lucas Films and Marvel, the Disney companies, raised their voice against the law and stabbed the leadership of the group. There is also the possibility that Chapek’s contract will not be renewed in February 2023.

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On the other hand, one of the law’s supporters, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and who is looking to run for president in the next elections, skillfully used the illusion. DeSantis is seen as an expert on Trump 2.0 and creating empty controversy.

The governor agreed to meet with Chapek and then portray Disney as a corporation that turns a blind eye to China and its oppressive regime. Chapek and Disney tried to remain neutral, but were swallowed up by DeSantis, who used the law’s defense and fight with Disney to boost his image among Republicans, increasing his chances of being nominated as a candidate. Went. As for the presidency, the worst-case scenario for Disney.

Ethics and good manners or incompetence?

Brazil’s Justice Minister ordered Gentilly’s film to be removed from the platform, but Netflix, Globoplay, Telecine Play, YouTube and Apple TV did not comply with the Justice Ministry’s decision to censor the film.

The fact that the film was available on multiple platforms certainly facilitated the decision-making of the companies, as the group’s refusal gave more power to the decision, but what if the work was produced by one of them or Was it only available in one forum?

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a populist and notorious opponent of the LGBTQIA+ movement, has already Netflix described as an “immoral” channel Which does not “beautify” your country. In 2020, Netflix canceled a Turkish drama If Only officials said they would only authorize filming if a gay character was removed from the plot. Episodes were also aired in a censored country in the eponymous Survivor Series.

Last December, Netflix was forced to pull a Spanish film called More the Merrier from its platform in Turkey after the watchdog said its depictions of incest and swing were at odds with “Turkish family values.”

freedom of expression and responsibility

Most recently, Spotify was heavily criticized for airing a podcast by Joe Rogan, a notorious campaigner of disinformation and with a history of racist comments.

Initially, the platform defended Rogan, who has a contract with Spotify worth more than R$600 million. Then, in the face of mounting criticism, when a video surfaced showing the presenter repeating racial slurs dozens of times, the company removed several episodes of Rogan’s show and hastily put in place a content moderation policy.

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The fact remains that when Spotify hires Rogan, it makes an editorial choice. If Disney doesn’t have LGBTQIA+ characters in its films, it also takes a political stance. If Netflix stops producing the film because the plot has a gay character, a message is sent to the audience. Governments and influence groups know this and will use every opportunity they get.

Netflix, Disney and Globo Aren’t Just Anyone

Erdogan, like Bolsonaro and DeSantis, is great at maintaining morality and good manners, especially when his governments face difficulties. In Brazil, like Turkey, the economy is in crisis. In Florida, DeSantis tried to downplay Covid, fought the lockdown, and basically created a manual of what not to do in a pandemic. Overcrowded ICUs in the state have significantly increased the mortality rate.

The recent woes facing Netflix, Disney, Spotify and Globo (in Brazil) show that they are not companies like the others. Because of their weight in the popular imagination and ability to influence audiences by creating and distributing content, they are special. Even China has worked to increase its influence in the audio-visual segment.

Globo has known for years how much weight and influence that material has on politics and the course of the nation, which is probably why it was one of the quickest and most vocal in taking a stand against Gentilly’s censorship. The Bolsonaro government has apparently not stopped attacking the media opposing it, but the focus was on the press, not the audiovisual material.

The fact is that the attacks and pressures on media giants, especially the digital ones that are now coming, are only expected to increase as social networks become more regulated and “dull”. For populists, creating controversy is a matter of survival. So Netflix, Disney, Globo and their partners are natural targets.

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About the author: Will Smith

"Lifelong social media lover. Falls down a lot. Creator. Devoted food aficionado. Explorer. Typical troublemaker."

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