Netflix’s Bird Box was a huge hit, going so far as to launch its own craze of ‘bird-boxing,’ in which dangerous activities are done while blindfolded. This brief craze (which for all we know was the product of tabloid sensationalism more than anything really widespread) brought some negative publicity to the streaming giant as people attempted dumbass things like driving a car around with a blindfold on. Now, with the revelation that the film contained footage of the real-life Lac-Mégantic train disaster in 2013 to show the collapse of society, it’s generated even more bad publicity.
People spotted this soon after release, immediately complaining to Netflix about using a real-world tragedy for entertainment. Ordinarily, you might expect them to edit the movie so as not to offend, but perhaps surprisingly, they stuck to their guns, confirming that they have no plans to remove the footage from Bird Box as they cannot make changes to “finished content.”
I mean, they clearly can, but apparently they just don’t want to. Public policy director Corie Wright explained that Netflix “understands that many feel frustration and sadness at seeing images of this tragic event,” but they don’t seem to be doing anything to change that.
Now, though, the controversy has ratcheted up another notch, with the Parliament of Canada stepping in to pass a motion saying Netflix should pay compensation to the residents of Lac-Mégantic. Canadian legislator Pierre Nantel explained the following:
“We know people are going to go and watch this film, and again these real images will be used. For people in Lac-Megantic, they saw images of their own downtown burning, and could imagine their own family members in it.”
In another embarrassing moment for Netflix, it soon transpired that another of their titles was using the same footage: Travellers. Apparently, this is going to be replaced, but Lac-Mégantic mayor Julie Morin seems unimpressed, saying:
“I don’t know if this is happening all the time, but we are looking for assurances from Netflix that they are going to remove them. You can be sure we are going to follow up on this, and our citizens are on our side.”
It’ll be interesting to see if Netflix really will bow to public pressure on this. Right now, they show no signs of doing so, but history tells us that if there’s one group of people you really don’t want to piss off, it’s Canadians.