Anger at Spielberg Demonstrates People Don’t Know What a Hypocrite is
We should all be disturbed by how Steven Spielberg’s backhanded compliment of Netflix has been distorted
After filmmaker Steven Spielberg appeared at Apple TV+’s launch event to promote the Amazing Stories reboot, the director began trending. Tweets (like the one embedded below) mentioning the creator of shows like Band of Brothers, Taken and Smash invariably accused him of hypocrisy, of despising streaming services, or not believing television is its own artform.
Of course, none of that is true. First, let’s take a look at Spielberg’s comments from 2018, which went viral earlier this year after allegations he wanted to ban Netflix from qualifying for the Academy Awards:
“Once you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie. You certainly, if it’s a good show, deserve an Emmy, but not an Oscar. I don’t believe films that are just given token qualifications in a couple of theaters for less than a week should qualify for the Academy Award nomination.”
I personally disagree with Spielberg’s assessment: I would counter that if cinemas went the way of the dodo, would films cease to exist? But that is besides the point: these comments do not imply that Spielberg hates Netflix, or considers their work ineligible for any award — in fact, he was arguing Netflix may have elevated the format of the TV movie, which for years had the misfortune of being associated with mediocre Lifetime or Hallmark movies.
Perhaps the anger at Spielberg in daring to suggest Netflix films may not technically be cinema, is because deep down we still consider TV the ugly little sibling of movies? How dare he suggest Netflix films might not be eligible for Oscars, just Emmys, or TV BAFTAs? Might that not suggest the issue is that streaming services, not Hollywood, are producing all the prestigious work now?
So to see widespread misconstruing of his views to mock his presence was deeply disappointing. Nevermind the fact Spielberg was promoting a TV series for Apple anyway: it is disingenuous to accuse him of hypocrisy when his position on the issue remains internally consistent. I understand that you disagree with him, but the inability to engage with his opinion honestly, harms our own pro-Netflix position: screaming that Spielberg would campaign for any of his films at the Oscars if they were released on Apple TV+ doesn’t work if he wouldn’t do that.
Furthermore, the notion Spielberg only came out to support his Apple series because he was paid to, often accompanied in tweets by $ signs, is pernicious and has overt anti-Semitic overtones. But that’s a topic that would be better explored by a Jewish film writer.
Lastly, if you wanted a reminder that Spielberg has never hated streaming, he appeared in and executive produced the WW2 documentary Five Came Back, which earned narrator Meryl Streep — surprise, surprise — a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Narrator.