5,000 signatures reached
To: Netflix Executives: Ted Sarandos, Lisa Nishimura, Brandon Riegg, and Vernā Myers
Remove "Afflicted" Docuseries from Netflix Now
PETITION NOTE: On September 18th, a group of concerned writers, activists, artists, filmmakers, physicians, and scientists came together to write an open letter to Netflix to request that Afflicted be immediately removed from the service. Sign this petition to endorse the letter. All signatures will be sent to Netflix. Please note that the below is an excerpt. You are encouraged to read the full text of the letter at: https://medium.com/@afflicted/open-letter-to-netflix-regarding-the-afflicted-docuseries-d2b5263c9eb6
We request that “Afflicted” docuseries be immediately removed from the service. We further request that a formal apology be released that includes a statement of Netflix’s future plans for the programming of documentaries, television, comedy specials, and feature films about disability and projects that include talent, key crew, and/or consultants with disabilities.
We express our profound disappointment with the recently released Netflix docuseries “Afflicted.” We are deeply concerned about its unethical treatment of its subjects and its many factual errors and omissions. Its inclusion on your platform—which reaches three hundred million viewers worldwide—will reinforce barriers to appropriate medical care or disability benefits, dampen the support of vital research, and add to the stigma and social isolation of an already profoundly marginalized group of people.
“Afflicted” was introduced to participants as a series that would “compassionately” represent their experiences with diseases that lack proper diagnostic tools and effective treatments. But rather than authentically depict these participants’ experiences and the biomedical research that might explain their illnesses, “Afflicted” used every creative tool and untenable journalistic practice to advance a narrative that suggests these patients’ problems are primarily psychological, a theory that is not supported by the evidence. Moreover, the “Afflicted” team engaged in multiple unethical practices to create their docuseries—from misrepresenting their intentions to showing apparent diagnoses from doctors who had never examined the subjects.
“Afflicted” offered no objective evidence backing its claim for a psychosomatic basis. And it excluded substantial medical and scientific evidence that would have helped explain the subjects’ diagnoses.
The problems with this film aren’t just hypothetical: The participants are already suffering for their participation, receiving intense online harassment, having their professional reputations questioned, and having friends turn against them. And if “Afflicted” remains on Netflix, it will hurt many more people. Many people living with chronic illnesses, including those depicted in “Afflicted”, are routinely denied disability benefits. Some are abandoned by their families and fall into poverty, homelessness, and food insecurity when they become too ill to work. The stigma surrounding these conditions among health care providers poses a barrier to accessing quality medical care, putting patients at risk. The disbelief of loved ones—and the culture at large—contributes to the high rates of suicide among patients with these conditions.
The inclusion of people with disabilities in the telling of their own stories is essential to the creation of compelling, ethical, authentic cinema. Netflix has been an important platform for this conversation with programs such as “The Punk Rock Singer,” “My Beautiful Broken Brain,” “To The Bone,” and “Unrest.” Yet “Afflicted” was helmed by apparently able-bodied people, and displayed the disabled as curiosities for the entertainment of others.
Why is this important?
Netflix executives need to hear from as many people as possible that the the problems with this film are real and serious. The participants are already suffering for their participation, receiving intense online harassment, having their professional reputations questioned, and having friends turn against them. And if “Afflicted” remains on Netflix, it will hurt many more people. Many people living with chronic illnesses, including those depicted in “Afflicted”, are routinely denied disability benefits. Some are abandoned by their families and fall into poverty, homelessness, and food insecurity when they become too ill to work. The stigma surrounding these conditions among health care providers poses a barrier to accessing quality medical care, putting patients at risk. The disbelief of loved ones—and the culture at large—contributes to the high rates of suicide among patients with these conditions.
Add your voice to the original group of writers, activists, artists, filmmakers, physicians, scientists, and several "Afflicted" participants who have signed an open letter to Netflix executives. Read the here letter here: https://medium.com/@afflicted/open-letter-to-netflix-regarding-the-afflicted-docuseries-d2b5263c9eb6
ORIGINAL SIGNERS TO OPEN LETTER:
"The Punk Singer" and "So Sick"
Mario R. Capecchi
University of Utah School of Medicine
Department of Human Genetics
Director of Communications
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
Bela Chheda, MD
Center for Complex Diseases
Laurel Crosby, PhD
Director of Innovation
CFS Research Center
Stanford Genome Technology Center
Janet L Dafoe, PhD
Child Psychologist in Private Practice
Palo Alto, California, USA
Ronald W. Davis, PhD
Professor of Biochemistry and Genetics
Writer, Actor, Director, Producer
Author, "Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick"
Eva Hagberg Fisher
PhD Candidate, UC Berkeley
Author, "How To Be Loved: A Memoir of Lifesaving Friendship"
Maureen Hanson, Ph.D.
Professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics
H. Craig Heller, PhD
Lorry Lokey/Business Wire
Professor of Biology and Human Biology
Disability Rights Advocate
Ford Fellow, Ford Foundation
Designer, producer, author "BITE ME"
David L. Kaufman, MD
Center for Complex Diseases
Author, "Sick: A Memoir," "The Last Illusion," and "Sons and Other Flammable Objects"
Nancy Klimas MD
Director, Institute for Neuro-Immune Medicine
Nova Southeastern University
Director, Miami VA Medical Center GWI and CFS/ME Program
Miami, Florida, USA
Board Member at Disability Rights
Education and Defense Fund
Michele Lent Hirsch
Author, "Invisible: How Young Women with Serious Health Issues Navigate Work, Relationships, and the Pressure to Seem Just Fine"
Anti-bullying activist and writer
Mohsen Nemat-Gorgani, Ph.D.
Research Scientist, Stanford University
UC Berkeley journalist
Founder, The Neurodiversity Project
Author, "Ask Me About My Uterus"
Author, "What's Wrong with Me?" and "The Long Goodbye"
Robert D Phair PhD
Chief Science Officer
Integrative Bioinformatics Inc
Mountain View, CA
Anand Ramasubramanian, Ph. D.
Chemical & Materials Engineering
San José State University
Author, "Though the Shadowlands: A Science Writer’s Odyssey into an Illness Science Doesn’t Understand"
Contributing Editor, "Discover"
Amit Kumar Saha, PhD
Peidong Shen, PhD, Scientist
Stanford Genome Technology Center
Lars M. Steinmetz, PhD
Professor of Genetics
Stanford University School of Medicine
Ronald G Tompkins, MD, ScD
Summer M Redstone Professor of Surgery
Harvard Medical School
Director, Center for Surgery, Innovation & Bioengineering,
Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA.
David Tuller, DrPH
Senior Fellow in Public Health and Journalism
Center for Global Public Health
Michael VanElzakker, PhD
Research Fellow, Psychiatric Neuroscience Division
Harvard Medical School & Massachusetts General Hospital
Instructor, Tufts University Psychology
Founder and Director
Disability Visibility Project
Wenzhong Xiao, Ph.D.
Immune-Metabolism Computational Center
Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School
Comedian, Writer, Disability Advocate
Artist and Masters candidate
Harvard Divinity School
Musician, Music teacher
Brother of Bekah Dinnerstein
New York, NY
Jill Edelstein LCSW
Psychotherapist/Clinical Social Worker in
New York, NY, USA
Documentary Film and Television Editor
Author, Freelance Writer
Bylines: "The New Tork Times" "The Los Angeles Times" "The Washington Post"
Los Angeles, CA
Composer, "Final Space"