In a little over a month, we’ve seen HBO hire an “intimacy coordinator” to ensure that scenes of graphic sex and abuse can go on camera uninhibited, and subsequently saw Elevation Pictures release a film whose heroine unabashedly journals about the “sugar baby” lifestyle. If it seems like the opposite of #MeToo’s grand vision is what is materializing on screen, we’re not done yet.
Fox News reported over the weekend that streaming service Netflix is receiving backlash following the release of an original Italian drama titled Baby, which premiered Nov. 30. The action takes place in Rome and follows two teenage girls who, disenchanted with their family lives, descend into the city’s underground in search of (according to Netflix’s logline) “identity and independence.” The plot is considered a riff on the 2014 “Baby Squillo” scandal, which actually happened in Italy and involved two high school girls prostituting themselves in order to buy luxury items.
The allusions drew intense criticism from the National Center of Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE), an organization dedicated to helping victims of sex trafficking. NCOSE’s executive director Dawn Hawkins delivered this statement according to The Wrap:
“Despite being at ground zero of the #MeToo movement, Netflix appears to have gone completely tone-deaf on the realities of sexual exploitation... Despite the outcry from survivors of sex trafficking, subject matter experts, and social service providers, Netflix promotes sex trafficking by insisting on streaming ‘Baby.’”
Hawkins referred in her statement to a NCOSE petition in which 55 survivors of sex trafficking urged Netflix against releasing the series.
Even worse, NCSOE’s vice president of advocacy and outreach Haley Halverson revealed that the series’ director had gone on the record saying he “was inspired to follow in the steps of the series ’13 Reasons Why’ with ‘Baby.’”
13 Reasons Why was another Netflix original which was slammed by experts for glamorizing suicide. Halverson called both shows examples of “socially irresponsible and dangerous messages.”