Netflix vs. Straight Pride: Don’t troll the trolls

Netflix and the organizers of the Boston “Straight Pride” parade are having a food fight. Netflix’s lawyers’ got snarky, which seems like fun, but is actually counterproductive.

Let’s tell this story in context. The Boston “Straight Pride Parade” is, of course, a reaction to Boston’s Pride, a celebration of gay pride and other LGBTQ attitudes. The original Pride exists as a way for persecuted groups to show solidarity.

According to its site, the Straight Pride Parade exists so “Finally Straight People Will Have Their Voices Heard.” From its site:

Super Happy Fun America invites you to celebrate the diverse history, culture, and contributions of the straight community!

The Straight Pride Event will be held to achieve inclusivity and spread awareness of issues impacting straights in Greater Boston and beyond.  It will be a one-day event consisting of a parade followed by a flag raising ceremony.

Celebrate being heterosexual!

For most straight people, this sounds silly. About 99% of relationships in media are heterosexual. In every walk of life, people are typically assumed to be straight and cis (that is, not trans). Straight people are not suffering from a lack of inclusivity or discrimination. But hey, if they want to have a parade, what the heck.

Super Happy Fun America would like to provoke you with images on their site like this (yes, it’s fake).

Corporations are unlikely to sponsor the parade, since they don’t want to wade into the political controversy of an event that’s perceived as undermining LGBTQ people’s event. Despite this, the site includes a “Prospective Sponsors Page” featuring the logos of companies that the organizers hope will support their parade.

Imagine this without the X’s, since I’m sure that’s how it originally looked. This graphic is deceptive, since there is no chance any of these companies will actually sponsor the parade. (Where is Chick-Fil-A? That’s the only company I can think of that would want its logo here.)

The Netflix response

Here’s what the Netflix legal department wrote back to the organization, which then published Netflix’s letter on its site:

Subject: Infringement of Netflix IP

Dear John, Mark, and Samson,

You are using the Netflix logo to promote your event, which despite its name is about hate–not pride. That’s gross and deeply hurtful, but it’s also deceptive misinformation and infringes our legal rights. Netflix has nothing to do with your organization or event. Indeed, it’s telling that you feel the need to lie to gain legitimacy.

We write to you for two reasons: (1) to set the record straight that you are spreading misinformation about Netflix’s involvement or sponsorship of your organization and its events; and (2) to notify you that you are infringing our trademark and other intellectual property rights and if you do not cease such use immediately we will have no choice but to consider further legal action. Whether you like it or not, you are infringing our legal rights and we demand that you cease doing so immediately.

You should know that we’re unafraid of bullies. Our legal department is here, it’s queer, and it’s telling you to steer clear.

We expect removal of our name and logo from all of your materials within 24 hours. Sincerely,

Netflix IP Department

Is Netflix within its rights to demand the removal of its logo? Yes. The logo is being used in a deceptive way, and Netflix controls the use of its logo.

What about accusing the organization of being about hate? The original Pride is not and has never been about denigrating heterosexuals. As for “Straight Pride,” news articles have linked the organizers to alt-right and white supremacist groups. It’s clearly just out to create controversy and troll gay people.

But when you troll a troll, you create controversy, which is what organizations like the Straight Pride Parade live for. So calling it a hate organization is actually helping it become more visible.

“Our legal department is here, it’s queer, and it’s telling you to steer clear,” is witty, especially for lawyers. It certainly ensured that this controversy would get visibility. Is that what Netflix was aiming for?

Here’s Super Happy Fun’s response:

Super Happy Fun America is a civil rights organization dedicated to promoting the diverse history and culture of the straight community. We thought Netflix had a reputation as being both progressive and forward looking so offered your company the opportunity to become a sponsor of our parade. While we were hoping that you would accept, we never claimed that you did. However, it appears that we were wrong about your progressive nature. Not only are you declining our offer but are also using your position of privilege to threaten us. In fact, it is you who are acting like bullies. We have every right to inform the public about potential sponsors and report about our attempts at negotiations. Your hate will not stop us.

Let’s be clear. There are no “attempts at negotiation” — they just ripped off someone’s logo. Legal requests to take down a logo are not bullying.

Don’t wrestle with pigs

Straight Pride exists solely to provoke. Straight people suffer no discrimination or loss of privilege. That’s why they’ve posted the logos on their site.

Anything stronger than a typical cease-and-desist is just generating the controversy that this event is attempting to gin up.

I’m sure Netflix’s lawyers had fun writing that. It’s not that they’re wrong. But if their objective was to slap down Straight Pride, they’ve done the opposite — they’ve elevated them and given them a platform to whine.

Don’t troll a troll. As the saying goes, don’t wrestle with pigs — you get dirty and besides, the pig likes it.

2 responses to “Netflix vs. Straight Pride: Don’t troll the trolls

  1. Wait a minute. Netflix is not on the list.

    Ask an attorney. Their statement :

    You are using the Netflix logo to promote your event, which despite its name is about hate–not pride.

    Is clearly a good case for defamation. It is attacking the victim as if they have court ordered proof that they are about hate, and the accusation is made publicly with an implied intention cause damage. This is a textbook case for a slander law suit.
    🙂

    1. The Netflix logo is on the second row, second from the right. I missed it the first time as it has a black cross through it – not sure who put those there.

      While not a lawyer, I think I agree with Fred’s assessment. The Netflix law team has been shrill rather than professional. This is where consulting with an external (and impartial) legal advisor would’ve made sense, particularly if there also appears to be a conflict of interest on behalf of the Netflix legal team. Are they saying that the entire legal team comprises only of non-heterosexual employees? I think by trying to be too smart by half they’ve definitely opened a serious can of worms. No real place for hubris in this situation.

      Cheers

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