Netflix and revolution?: The Social Transformations That Will and Will Not Be Broadcast

Hannah Spadafora
15 min readMay 26, 2021

Scene 1: It’s an interim year between 1922–1966. The Hays Office is ceding ‘morally inappropriate’ expressions of reckless abandonment in visual media to Protestant values via the uncannily religiously-influenced, Hollywood generated terms set out in The Motion Picture Production Code. Circumventing a government-imposed code situation, these suffocating guidelines are agreed to; it’s meant to keep the industry self-regulated. Controversial filmmakers are challenged to creatively squeeze subtle hints, jokes, and insinuations into their visions; a doublespeak of insubordination that can be cloaked as innocence if someone with regulatory authority should press bans or censure. This is true for director-writers such as Alfred Hitchcock as well as director-writers-actresses such as Mae West. There is subversion to read between the lines of approved script — impressive pushing of boundaries, really — but, the revolution will not be televised. Or will it?

Scene 2: It’s the original Woodstock, 1969, smack in between the years of 1955–1975. Nearly half a million hippies revel in ecstasy, streak, mud-wrestle, smoke joints, and rally with deafening impact against the war machine, pulsing in waves set to tempo against the deployment of forces to Vietnam. This massive fandom event, 400,000–500,000 people deep, grew up listening to talented and passionate artists sew seeds of system discontent via not only protest songs sung by off-beat rock stars, but also via beat-and-post-beat poetry and novels of William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Tom Wolfe, Ken Kesey. Tuning in and dropping out (a la Tim Leary) is in vogue, much like modern nihilistic hedonist escapes, and there’s no question why; the why is on TV — the first videos and direct pictures of the gruesome destructiveness of combat brought to the small screen and drafts sending home youth coffins of kids cut short of the cusp of their first chance to live as adults render war hero narratives less convincing. Rebels run across the countryside, from the beat nomads hopping trains to eccentric writers holing up in cabins and mansions of privacy, bringing escapes to readers laid down heavy by turmoils of real world strife, to the institutionalized, labelled-mad chaotic writers, perhaps not so odd or mad in a world that itself is truly mad, to the…

Hannah Spadafora

Hannah Spadafora is a writer living in the Atlanta area with multiple cats and underused degrees in anthropology, philosophy, and religious studies.