Netflix, Censorship and Saudi Arabia


Netflix pulled an episode of “Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj” from distribution in Saudi Arabia.

Viewers can still see it in America (and probably just about everywhere else in the world with Netflix), and don’t feel terrible if you weren’t aware of the fact that Saudi Arabia has Netflix.

The good folks at Netflix have been quick to point out that they were just avoiding legal difficulties in the Kingdom, and perhaps no one should blame them for wanting to avoid fines and imprisonment. We won’t get into the weeds of jurisdiction and enforcement, right?

Now, Minhaj definitely didn’t pull any punches in the episode on Saudi Arabia, and offered quite a lot of information that should make many Americans pause.

It’s all about the money.

Remember that phrase. American presidents, including the current one, have maintained good relations with Saudi Arabia because of oil and guns. That means America is just fine with killing journalists, subjugating women, and censorship. We’re also accepting of leaders who kill, imprison, torture, and maim to gain power.

It’s all about the money.

Of course, because of the nature of these things, the offending episode that Netflix graciously pulled from their rotation in Saudi Arabia is enjoying a great deal of popularity on the web. Minhaj said it would, and it truly was predictable. Remember “The Last Temptation of Christ”? If it wasn’t for the Pope saying not to see it, you probably wouldn’t.

But, I digress.

It’s all about the money.

Why in the world would Netflix decide it was a good idea to bow to Saudi Arabia on content? Why didn’t they just stick to their guns, and tell the Kingdom, “Sure, we’ll kill that episode, and our service in total!”?

If you didn’t previously know that Netflix was serving entertainment to Saudi Arabians, right about now is when you’re going to wonder why you hadn’t. It turns out that Netflix did around a million dollars worth of business in Saudi Arabia in 2017, and at least one forecast indicates that they can expect to make nearly $10 million there by the end of 2020.

Maybe at that point Netflix will consider fines for offensive content just part of their operating budget, right? Then they just have to figure out how to avoid seeing any of their executives imprisoned. But, maybe it would be worth it…

Image: YouTube/Patriot Act