Last year, Netflix got under a lot of fire with Catholics. Sometime after Georgia passed a new law outlawing abortion after the first trimester, Netflix announced they would no longer film in Georgia unless the law was changed. Many actors, such as Alyssa Milano, also protested on social media. As a result of this, Catholics I know on social media announced that they would “hit Netflix where it hurt”, meaning they would cancel their accounts. I was not one of them, and some Catholics I knew in groups on social media actually told me I was a “bad Catholic”. The fervor died down, as it always does. Then it got fired up again, because apparently Netflix wasn’t done ticking off their Catholic patrons. They released The First Temptation of Christ, a Netflix feature with a gay Jesus bringing his gay lover to see his parents. A bishop in Texas decried it, even though he admitted he doesn’t have the time to watch Netflix anyway. The bishop was quoted in the article linked, saying that “blasphemers don’t deserve one penny.” Again, many Catholics announced that they too would be cancelling their accounts.
I can understand why this has become popular for Catholics. They feel offended, and they think that Netflix will care and will stop showing offensive material on their app. I have news for you: they don’t care. At all.
I understand why you think boycotting makes a difference. It famously did in the 60’s, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to white passengers. That’s just one example where boycotting caused a great social change. But here’s the difference: Netflix is not a government institution. There are no laws saying that they are not allowed to show programs that are offensive to you. They can show whatever they please on their app.
I understand your dilemma. You believe that by watching Netflix, with full knowledge that they have offensive material, and that they support Planned Parenthood, you are participating in evil. It’s also why some of you refuse to eat and drink at Starbucks. Has Starbucks stopped donating to Planned Parenthood? No.
There are two ways to look at participating in evil–direct and indirect. An example of direct participation goes like this: say you and some friends decide to rob a store. Even if you are only driving the getaway vehicle and you are not going inside the store, you are still participating in evil. That is on you. However, indirect participation is NOT on you. If you drive a taxi to the same store, and your customer robs it, unless you were told they were robbing it, that’s not on you! You didn’t know what they were going to do. Now if you decide to drive them away anyway after seeing them rob the store, then you’re a particiapant.
Netflix’s business with Planned Parenthood does not really concern you. You are only watching Netflix to be entertained. That is, at best, an indirect participation. The indirect principle exists in moral teaching because we do not know everyone’s hearts. We only know our own. If you were to refuse to do business with every “evil” corporation, I guarantee that you would have very limited resources, and not just for entertainment.
Netflix is a multi-national conglomerate. If you decide to cancel their app over First Temptation of Christ, or any other program you deem “offensive”, they don’t care! They have countless other patrons who will still pay.
There are many people who work for Hollywood who live to offend people. I refer to it as “South Park Syndrome”. And guess what? South Park is still on the air, because your feelings don’t matter.
You know what I did when I saw this program on my Netflix tab? I down-voted it and moved on with my life. I decided I wouldn’t watch it, and watched something else. If Netflix wanted to load it automatically when I finished a series, I knew I could stop it by hitting the “back” tab, and returning to the main menu to watch something else instead. I think that would make more of a difference than your boycott. And please, don’t call me a “bad Catholic” or a “bad “Christian” because I still do business with Netflix. You’re not my judge.