Titles That Netflix Has Reluctantly Removed As most people know, Netflix is constantly adding and removing content from its catalogs. There are several reasons why this happens. The most common reason is that Netflix’s rights to certain third-party content simply expire, and the streaming giant decides that a given title just isn’t important enough to renew. Other times, competitors outbid them; that’s business. Rarely, something far more interesting results in the removal of content from Netflix: government takedown requests.
Government takedown requests are not as polite as the term suggests; it would be more accurate to refer to them as demands, with which Netflix does not always comply. Here’s a look at some titles Netflix has removed due to pressure from foreign governments.
Full Metal Jacket
Many revere Stanley Kubrick’s 1987 portrayal of the Vietnam War as one of the most entertaining war movies ever made. The Vietnamese government, however, was less than amused. In 2017, the Vietnamese Authority of Broadcasting and Electronic Information (ABEI) issued a takedown request for the classic Kubrick film, and Netflix complied, removing the title from its Vietnamese catalog.
It’s not hard to see why the film might be a bit objectionable in Vietnam. One scene depicts a group of U.S. marines celebrating a birthday with a dead Vietnamese soldier donning a kid’s birthday hat, and another scene portrays the merciless execution of a wounded female sniper.
Cooking on High, The Legend of 420 and Disjointed
In the United States, more than half the population has adopted a far more progressive stance on marijuana in recent years. The same cannot be said for Singapore, where the punishment for marijuana ranges from lengthy incarceration and public caning to outright execution.
For this reason, titles that portray marijuana positively don’t fly in Singapore. In 2018, Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) put its foot down. Netflix complied without putting up a fight, removing the three titles from its Singapore catalog.
The First Temptation of Christ
Blasphemy is a touchy subject, which explains the more than 200 million people who had a problem with this irreverent flick and signed a Change.com petition arguing for its removal. The First Temptation of Christ is undoubtedly blasphemous, alluding to Jesus’s homosexuality and Mary’s predisposition toward cannabis.
The official takedown request came from a Brazilian judge, who made the ruling following a lawsuit filed by a conservative Catholic group based in Rio de Janeiro. The judge ordered the film’s removal in January 2020.
Night of the Living Dead
This is perhaps the strangest takedown request of them all. It is unclear exactly why the German Commission for Youth Protection deemed the 1968 George Romero classic objectionable. Some have speculated that it was due to the film’s violence and gore, but this theory doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.
There are several German titles on Netflix that depict extreme violence and gore. Dark, for example, is a show about a teenage drug dealer, and Parfum, is a German series about a ruthless murder at a boarding school. Unfortunately, the world may never know why a black and white zombie flick from the 1960s is unpalatable to German authorities. There is also a version of the film that is banned in Germany altogether.
Patriot Act (Saudi Arabia episode)
This one isn’t particularly surprising. The second episode of Patriot Act was pretty critical about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Arabia Consulate on October 2, 2018. Consulate officials initially denied Khashoggi was killed inside the consulate but later admitted was murdered by Saudi agents inside the consulate in Istanbul.
People like to think that this is an age of complete transparency, that any information they want can be easily obtained. The truth is, censorship is alive and well, and Netflix isn’t immune. There will always be people who find certain materials offensive, obscene or simply unsuitable in a given context. Some argue that complete transparency is less than ideal, and it’s possible that they’re right.