To: Netflix Executives: Ted Sarandos, Lisa Nishimura, Brandon Riegg, and Vernā Myers

Remove "Afflicted" Docuseries from Netflix Now

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
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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:

Sini Anderson
Documentary Filmmaker
"The Punk Singer" and "So Sick"

Jennifer Brea
Filmmaker, "Unrest"

Mario R. Capecchi
Distinguished Professor
University of Utah School of Medicine
Department of Human Genetics

Lawrence Carter-Long
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
Stanford University

Lena Dunham
Writer, Actor, Director, Producer

Maya Dusenbery
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
Cornell University

H. Craig Heller, PhD
Lorry Lokey/Business Wire
Professor of Biology and Human Biology
Stanford University

Judith Heumann
Disability Rights Advocate
Ford Fellow, Ford Foundation

Ally Hilfiger
Designer, producer, author "BITE ME"

Deborah Hoffmann
Documentary Filmmaker

David L. Kaufman, MD
Center for Complex Diseases

Porochista Khakpour
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

Jim LeBrecht
Documentary Filmmaker
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"

Monica Lewinsky
Anti-bullying activist and writer

Mohsen Nemat-Gorgani, Ph.D.
Research Scientist, Stanford University

Jenara Nerenberg
UC Berkeley journalist
Founder, The Neurodiversity Project

Abby Norman
Author, "Ask Me About My Uterus"

Meghan O'Rourke
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.
Associate Professor
Chemical & Materials Engineering
San José State University

Julie Rehmeyer
Author, "Though the Shadowlands: A Science Writer’s Odyssey into an Illness Science Doesn’t Understand"
Contributing Editor, "Discover"

Frances Reid
Documentary Filmmaker

Amit Kumar Saha, PhD
Research Engineer
Stanford University

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
UC Berkeley

Michael VanElzakker, PhD
Research Fellow, Psychiatric Neuroscience Division
Harvard Medical School & Massachusetts General Hospital
Instructor, Tufts University Psychology

Alice Wong
Founder and Director
Disability Visibility Project

Wenzhong Xiao, Ph.D.
Immune-Metabolism Computational Center
Massachusetts General Hospital
Harvard Medical School

Maysoon Zayid
Comedian, Writer, Disability Advocate

"AFFLICTED" PARTICIPANTS:
Jesse Bercowetz
Artist and Masters candidate
Harvard Divinity School

Nick Dinnerstein
Musician, Music teacher
Brother of Bekah Dinnerstein
New York, NY

Jill Edelstein LCSW
Psychotherapist/Clinical Social Worker in
Private Practice
New York, NY, USA

Janine Feczko
Documentary Film and Television Editor

Jamison Hill
Author, Freelance Writer
Bylines: "The New Tork Times" "The Los Angeles Times" "The Washington Post"

Pilar Olave
Actress/Musician/VoiceOver Artist
Los Angeles, CA

Star Rinaldi

Jake Sidwell
Composer, "Final Space"
Nashville, TN


Reasons for signing

  • Watch this series if you really enjoy seeing a sick dog being kicked. Thanks George Soros. Thanks T-Rump. What was that agenda called again?
  • I signed because Afflicted left me disgusted at the treatment of the participants, disappointed at the lack of journalistic integrity and genuinely frightened about the implications for myself and others living with a chronic illness.
  • My. Daughter. Contracted. M E. While c at. University. I. Have. Seen. her go. through. many. Various. phases. Fortuately. Shred

Updates

2018-09-20 17:20:33 -0400

5,000 signatures reached

2018-09-18 22:42:48 -0400

1,000 signatures reached

2018-09-18 15:18:00 -0400

500 signatures reached

2018-09-18 10:58:31 -0400

100 signatures reached

2018-09-18 10:04:17 -0400

50 signatures reached

2018-09-18 09:42:25 -0400

25 signatures reached

2018-09-18 09:23:26 -0400

10 signatures reached