U.K. Wants Netflix to Add ‘Fiction’ Label to “The Crown”
- The U.K. government is set to formally ask Netflix to attach a label to its series “The Crown” that clearly marks it as fiction.
- The government is concerned viewers may take the events as fact when the show is a historical drama.
- The request comes after Netflix released the fourth season of the show in mid-November, which covers Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister, the Falklands War, and the Royal family’s tumultuous relationship with Princess Diana.
- Netflix has attached other labels in the past when covering topics such as mental health, even when the depicted content is fictional.
- There are also concerns that show writer Peter Morgan has laid out events in a way that could push conspiracy theories, such as those around Princess Diana’s death.
The Crown Ruffles U.K. Feathers
The United Kingdom says it will formally ask Netflix to place a fiction label on its popular series “The Crown.”
The show’s fourth season released in mid-November and has already ruffled feathers in the U.K. In an interview with The Daily Mail on Sunday, U.K. Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden confirmed rumors that the government was seeking such a label.
“It’s a beautifully produced work of fiction, so as with other TV productions, Netflix should be very clear at the beginning it is just that,” he said.
“Without this, I fear a generation of viewers who did not live through these events may mistake fiction for fact.”
Many are concerned that scenes depicted by show writer Peter Morgan feed into conspiracy theories about the royal family. Those conspiracy theories largely circulate around Princess Diana, who was introduced in the show this season.
Princess Diana was a polarizing figure in the royal family. She married Prince Charles in 1981 and was seen as a “modernizing” figure for the royal family. She infamously died in a car crash that has spawned many conspiracy theories about who was responsible.
Even without the theories tying her death to the Royal family, her struggle with her royal in-laws never helped the family’s image.
Fact or Fiction?
A warning label on the show, even on season 4, isn’t completely unheard of. A few episodes delve into Diana’s struggle with bulimia and have health warnings clearly shown before those episodes.
“Those were difficult scenes to film and I also feel like taking her to that place was a good thing,” Emma Corrin, who portrays Princess Diana, told Variety over the weekend.
“It gave me somewhere to go with her, but I was exhausted a lot those days coming off set because at the same time as you’re playing someone who’s fictionalized and obviously you’re not feeling or thinking those things, it’s your job to make yourself feel that way,” she added.
There are also pushes to affix a fictional label to the show by members of Diana’s family. Her brother, the Earl Spencer, told ITV, “It would help The Crown [the show] an enormous amount if at the beginning of each episode it stated that, ‘This isn’t true but is based around some real events’. Because then everyone would understand it’s drama for drama’s sake.”
Regarding the show’s fictionality, Corrin told talk show host Tamron Hall,“I think for everyone in “The Crown,” we always try and remind everyone that… the series we are in is fictionalized to a great extent.”
“Obviously it has its roots in reality and in some fact but Peter Morgan’s scripts are works of fiction.”
However, Morgan’s stance on fiction blurs the line a little. In the past, Morgan has defended his approach to the show, commenting, “You sometimes have to forsake accuracy, but you must never forsake truth.”
For critics, that thought process can lead to misrepresentations of what happened for the sake of a spun narrative. For example, in season 4 there’s a scene where Princess Diana is distressed and alone in her bedroom when Prince Philip, her father-in-law, approaches and asks what’s wrong.
She tells him she just wants to get away and he makes it clear that it won’t end well if she does. Diana replies, “I hope that isn’t a threat, Sir.”
Critics of the show claim this line is a way to foreshadow Diana’s death and a subtle nod to the theory that the Royals orchestrated her death.
In 1999, French police debunked that claim and put sole responsibility for the crash on her driver, who they claim was intoxicated at the time of the accident. Otherwise, the media and paparazzi are criticized for following her life so closely, particularly on the night of her death, prompting her driver to speed away dangerously.
Netflix has yet to make any comments about the U.K.’s looming request.
See What Others Are Saying: (Variety) (Radio Times) (Vulture)
China Refuses to Apologize for Official’s Tweet Showing Fake Image of Australian Soldier
- Earlier this month, Australia released a report saying 25 Australian soldiers likely killed 39 Afghan civilians and prisoners between 2009 and 2013.
- The report was praised in Australia for its transparency. In China, however, it was used as a prop to highlight the perceived hypocrisy of the West towards Human Rights.
- Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian tweeted out a posed image of an Australian soldier threatening to kill an Afghan child.
- The tweet caused Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to angrily respond, asking Twitter to remove the image.
- China has refused to apologize for the tweet, marking the latest escalation in diplomatic tensions between the two countries
Tweets on the International Stage
China has refused to apologize for a tweet by a Chinese Foreign Ministry official that caused Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to ask Twitter to take down the post.
On November 29, Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian tweeted out, “Shocked by murder of Afghan civilians & prisoners by Australian soldiers. We strongly condemn such acts, &call for holding them accountable.”
That post also featured the staged image of an Australian soldier holding a bloody knife to an Afghan child, with the caption, “Don’t be afraid, we are coming to bring you peace!”
Zhao was referencing an internal report by the Australian Defence Force released earlier this month. The report investigated allegations of Australian war crimes and found found “credible information” that 25 Australian soldiers were involved in the murders of 30 Afghan civilians and prisoners between 2009 and 2013.
Shortly after the tweet, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison responded and asked Twitter to intervene. Morrison described it as “disinformation” and “truly repugnant, deeply offensive, utterly outrageous.”
“The Chinese government should be totally ashamed of this post. It diminishes them in the world’s eyes. It is a false image and terrible slur on our defense forces,” he added.
Chinese diplomats seem to be confused about why Spokesperson Zhao’s tweet got such a strong response from Australia. A different Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying, responded to reporters questions about the incident and said, “The Australian side reacted so strongly to my colleague’s personal tweet.”
“Are they justifying the ruthless killing of innocent Afghan civilians by Australian soldiers but suggesting that it is unreasonable for anyone to condemn such a cold crime?” he continued.
The issue has highlighted differences in how the West and China see the same situation. The Australian war crimes report was met with indignation at the actions of certain soldiers, while also being praised as a new standard of transparency.
Meanwhile, in China, this report highlighted perceived hypocrisies in the West over human rights. The image Zhao tweeted out is actually from a Chinese Weibo user who has gained some fame this year for making art criticizes Western takes on democracy and human rights.
This situation is the latest in an ongoing series of diplomatic tit-for-tats between Australia and China. In April of this year, Australia tried to get E.U. support in investigating whether Beijing’s early response to the coronavirus led to it becoming a global pandemic. China responded with tariffs on Australian barley and this past Friday imposed duties on Australian wine.
These incidents actually reach out beyond just Australia and China. China uses the threat of cutting off or limiting trade on smaller nations to “win” international disputes. In the case of Australia, that’s a significant threat; 40% of everything Australia sells internationally goes to China.
The combat this, the U.S. has sought to make a loose-coalition of Western nations to jointly-retaliate when China tries to do this, although those efforts have yet to materialize.
See What Others Are Saying: (BBC) (Wall Street Journal) (CNBC)
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