What happens when a formerly "growth company" transitions into a state of not so growth? Well, it will desperately do anything to restore its growth by attracting attention to itself in any way possible, or failing that, it will engage in some ideological virtue signaling, and while alienating one half of its possible clients, it will double down on the other half.
Netflix, whose US growth has now plateaued, has done something that falls in-between these two options, because as Bloomberg reports, the video streaming company - which is about to be existentially challenged by such bigger peers as Disney - plans to reconsider its “entire investment” in Georgia if a law restricting abortions takes effect in the state, where it films shows such as “Stranger Things” and “Ozark.”
In early May, Georgia became the fourth U.S. state this year to outlaw abortion after a doctor can detect a fetal heartbeat, although anti-abortion rights groups vowed to challenge the bill. The new law is set to be enacted in 2020 if it survives legal challenges; It has predictably triggered the liberal bastion of Hollywood, where several filmmakers have said they would refuse to work in the state, but so far large companies have remained silent.
This is where Netflix has taken virtue signaling to a whole new level.
But what does a money-losing video streaming service have to do with state abortion rights? Well, according to Reid Hastings, everything.
“We have many women working on productions in Georgia, whose rights, along with millions of others, will be severely restricted by this law,” Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement.
“It’s why we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court. Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there, while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to. Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”
But will Netflix, which is desperate for the cheapest possible content creation really pull out, pun probably not intended, of Georgia? Somehow we doubt it.
As Bloomberg notes, Georgia has some of the most generous film and TV subsidies in the country, and it’s become a popular hub for production. AMC Networks Inc.’s “The Walking Dead” is filmed there, along with several of Walt Disney Co.’s recent hits, including “Captain America: Civil War,” “Ant-Man” and “Black Panther.”
Others virtue signalling amateurs, such as J.J. Abrams Jordan Peele, the director of “Get Out,” said they will still be shooting their show “Lovecraft Country” in the state, although they’ll donate their fees for this season to the ACLU of Georgia and Fair Fight Georgia.
But if Netflix follows through with its threat to boycott Georgia, what will it do with all the other states that plan to follow in Georgia's footsteps. In addition to Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio which have all enacted heartbeat laws since mid-March, and Iowa passed one last year, and Alabama which passed a bill that would ban all abortions unless the mother’s life is threatened, a total of 15 states have introduced measures to ban abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
Will Netflix soon be stuck with only filming its money losing movies in only the most expensive of liberal states? Once again, we doubt it, but then again nothing is as money-losing as virtue signaling for the sake of, well, virtue.
Meanwhile, the Motion Picture Association of America has noted that similar legislation has been challenged in other states. “The outcome in Georgia will also be determined through the legal process,” the organization said. “We will continue to monitor developments.”