Netflix has revealed which shows and movies it has removed after being asked by governments around the world. In its Environmental Social Governance 2019 report, published Friday, the streaming giant said just nine pieces of content have been taken down since it launched services over a decade ago as a result of government demands.
only got two takedown demands in 2019 to remove content: an episode of comedian Hasan Minhaj's Patriot Act that criticized the regime of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia; and The Last Temptation of Christ in Singapore, the 1988 film by Martin Scorcese that is a banned in that country.
Netflix has already removed one title for 2020 -- The Last Hangover was removed in Singapore after a written demand from the Singapore Infocomm Media Development Authority.
Other takedowns included:
- The Bridge in New Zealand in 2015, which Netflix said is classified as "objectionable" in that country
- Full Metal Jacket in Vietnam in 2017
- Night of the Living Dead in Germany in 2017, which is a banned film in that country
- Cooking on High, The Legend of 420 and Disjointed in Singapore in 2018
Netflix's takedown practices came under the most scrutiny last year, when it pulled the episode of Patriot Act from its service in Saudi Arabia. As well as taking aim at the crown prince, the program was critical of the kingdom's military involvement in Yemen and its role in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. After a Saudi regulator complained that the program ran afoul of a cybercrime law, Netflix removed the episode.
Critics of Netflix's Patriot Act decision characterized the move as censorship kowtowing to an oppressive regime, but Netflix's CEO
said the company didn't feel bad about the takedown. "We're not in the news business, we're not trying to do truth-to-power," Hastings said in November. "We're trying to entertain."
Days later, Netfix's head of programming hedged his boss' statements. "All entertainment is truth-to-power," Ted Sarandos said at a Paley Center event. But even as Sarandos noted Hastings may not have used "a great choice of words," he maintained that Netflix needs to navigate local content laws around the globe.
Netflix has pushed back against government takedown action, too. Earlier this year, a Brazilian judge ordered Netflix remove a comedy special -- called The First Temptation of Christ, not to be confused with the Scorcese film with the similar name -- because it depicted Jesus as gay. Netflix appealed the ruling, and Brazil's Supreme Court overturned it, allowing the program to keep streaming.