Earlier this week, Bob’s supervisor, let’s call her Joan, brought him a list of streaming movies to promote on the official Netflix Twitter account. Joan suggested that Bob look for trending phrases and hashtags that might be relevant to the movies on the list. After reviewing the list, Bob noted that one of them, Iron Sky, might be particularly difficult to promote, especially since it only had a 6.0/10 rating on IMDb and a 36% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. He was “thorough” in his research, however, and “read” (looked at keywords in) every reference he could find about the movie, hoping something relevant would come up. Here is an excerpt from the Iron Sky entry on Wikipedia:
The film opens in 2018 with an American manned landing mission returning to the Moon. The lander carries two astronauts, one of them a black male model, James Washington, specifically chosen to aid the President of the United States [a parody of Sarah Palin] in her reelection (various “Black to the Moon” word-play posters are seen in the film, extolling the new Moon landing).
When Bob saw that the hashtag #SarahPalinFilms was trending on Twitter, he thought he had found the perfect opportunity. Unfortunately, he had not taken the time to read all of the tweets in the hashtag game. If he had, he would have seen that they were overwhelmingly negative (rather than what Bob may have very naively thought – an innocent game about movies with Sarah Palin characters):
Not all of the comments were negative:
While still others, like Bob’s, were completely clueless about what was going on:
— Netflix US (@netflix) May 1, 2013
Did Bob intend to insult Sarah Palin? Probably not. Was Bob implying Sarah Palin is a Nazi (as many outraged commenters – who had never seen the film – assumed based on the image Bob included with his tweet)? Also probably not.
Should Bob have reviewed the tweets being used in the hashtag game to see how his participation might impact his company? In hindsight, it seems like a good idea. Should Bob (and by extension Netflix) be blamed for the fact that a European film used a character resembling Sarah Palin to portray the President of the United States in a movie about Nazis from the moon invading Earth? I’m going to stick with no on that one.