Following the news that The Help had spiked to become the most-watched movie on Netflix amid worldwide protests against racism and police brutality, the streaming service decided to make an attempt to do better. The platform has launched a Black Lives Matter collection of shows, movies, and documentaries by Black creators, and has added Black Lives Matter as a category under its "Genre" tab.
"When we say 'Black Lives Matter,' we also mean 'Black storytelling matters,'" the company explained in a tweet on June 10. "With an understanding that our commitment to true, systemic change will take time – we're starting by highlighting powerful and complex narratives about the Black experience. When you log onto Netflix today, you will see a carefully curated list of titles that only begin to tell the complex and layered stories about racial injustice and Blackness in America."
The collection contains a wide variety of titles, including shows like Dear White People, When They See Us, #blackAF, and Pose; movies such as Moonlight, American Son, Malcolm X, and Mudbound; and documentaries like Ava DuVernay's 13th, Beyoncé's concert film Homecoming, and What Happened, Miss Simone? If you're not sure where to start, TV Guide has curated recommendations of great movies by Black directors to watch on Netflix, stand-up specials by Black comics, and essential shows and documentaries to help you learn about racial justice and police brutality.)
When we say “Black Lives Matter,” we also mean “Black storytelling matters.”— Netflix (@netflix) June 10, 2020
With an understanding that our commitment to true, systemic change will take time – we're starting by highlighting powerful and complex narratives about the Black experience.
Movies like The Help, which is not included in Netflix's BLM collection, have been criticized for being told from the perspective of white characters while exploiting Black pain and perpetuating stereotypes, with star Viola Davis even saying in a 2018 interview that she regrets accepting the role. Another of the movie's actors, Bryce Dallas Howard, recently took to Instagram to give suggestions for other viewing material.
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I’ve heard that #TheHelp is the most viewed film on @netflix right now! I’m so grateful for the exquisite friendships that came from that film — our bond is something I treasure deeply and will last a lifetime. This being said, The Help is a fictional story told through the perspective of a white character and was created by predominantly white storytellers. We can all go further. Stories are a gateway to radical empathy and the greatest ones are catalysts for action. If you are seeking ways to learn about the Civil Rights Movement, lynchings, segregation, Jim Crow, and all the ways in which those have an impact on us today, here are a handful of powerful, essential, masterful films and shows that center Black lives, stories, creators, and / or performers: 13th Eyes on the Prize I am Not Your Negro Just Mercy Malcom X Say Her Name: The Life And Death Of Sandra Bland Selma Watchmen When They See Us This is not a comprehensive list so please add to it in the comments below!
Netflix's collection is one of many recent efforts in the entertainment industry to make stories about racial injustice widely available, with movies like Just Mercy, the Michael B. Jordan-starring drama about racism in the American legal system; DuVernay's gripping historical drama Selma, about the Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches; and The Hate U Give, the book-to-screen adaptation about activism and police brutality, being made free to watch. The Criterion Channel has also lifted the paywall on many movies and documentaries from Black filmmakers, including Cheryl Dunye's The Watermelon Woman, Julie Dash's Daughters of the Dust, and Oscar Micheaux's Body and Soul.