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Netflix stare ban 0 19 June 2018

Netflix Production Crew Anti-Harassment Training – Negative or Positive?

If you have not heard stories about Netflix production crew anti-harassment training, raised by several publications and discussed on various social media platforms last week, you may have been living under a rock! We noticed a huge response and mixed reaction to the stories that have popped up about this online since, and are wondering what our readers think.

For those of you that missed them, the #metoo movement inspired Netflix crew guidelines  (disclosed by a Netflix employee) are reported to include the following:

  • Report any unwanted behaviour
  • Do not ask for a work colleague’s phone number
  • Do not flirt with colleagues or engage in lingering hugs
  • Do not make eye contact with a colleague for more than 5 seconds

Netflix have not confirmed or denied the above specifics in relation to training that they provide – but, when questioned about the reports, they did release the following statement to The Independent last week:

“We’re proud of the anti-harassment training we offer to our productions. We want every Netflix production to be a safe and respectful working environment. We believe the resources we offer empower people on our sets to speak up, and shouldn’t be trivialised.”

Some are arguing that the guidelines themselves trivialise harassment experienced by some of those in the industry, and they are said to have led to workplace mockery. A Netflix source said: “[The rule] has sparked jokes, with people looking at each other, counting to five, then diverting their eyes”.

But are all the reported rules so bad? Flirting and/or lingering hugs would probably be agreed by many, as not particularly appropriate for the workplace, though there is no clarification on what constitutes a ‘lingering’ hug or, for that matter, how exactly to define flirting. Making it a rule that colleagues should not approach each other for a contact number could also be problematic – but surely this is also all about context?

The rumoured ‘5 second rule’ is the most controversial on the list, attracting the most negative response by far, and prompting comments such as:

“Ridiculous policies like these, however, do nothing to solve these problems — and can actually create new ones. Calling an innocent six-second glance “harassment” trivializes the very real struggles of those who are actually harassed, and a no-phone-numbers rule is going to make it more difficult for employees to communicate.” (Katherine Timpf – National Review Online reporter)

 “1984” (Sun reader)

“So the lowest common denominator drags us all down, even though you say, it wouldn’t happen today.” (Independent reader)

“Oh wow. This is some real life Black Mirror … (Cinemablend reader)

“Imagine trying to light a stand in without looking at them for more than 5 seconds. Imagine trying to pull focus to a subject without looking at them for more than 5 seconds. Imagine trying to direct an actor without looking at them for more than 5 seconds. In fact, imagine in a noisy work environment taking an order as an assistant without 5+ seconds of eye contact. Imagine being a trainee without trying to lipread your boss from afar and predict what they might need. Nonsense. Absolute tomfoolery.” (Independent reader)

 “Yes, lets ban human interaction and see how that goes… even in a work setting” (Daily Mail reader)

However, some are very much in favour of the move, including the 5 second rule:

“[5 seconds] is a long time to stare at someone. Try it. Turn to your colleague/friend/partner/cat right now and ask if you can stare directly at them for five seconds to see whether you both find it weird. I can tell you now – you will.”  (Claire Cohen – Telegraph journalist)

So, do the reported Netflix production rules sound unreasonable to you, or like a necessary move in the right direction? We would love to hear your views!

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