In a strongly worded letter addressed to Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix, Quebec’s minister of culture asked for the withdrawal of images related to the Lac-Mégantic tragedy from all of the entertainment giant’s productions, including the hit movie Bird Box.
The images used in Netflix productions were taken from real-life footage of one of the deadliest disasters in recent Canadian history, when a train carrying crude oil derailed, exploded and killed 47 people in Lac-Mégantic in 2013.
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In the letter, Nathalie Roy accuses Netflix of using footage of the rail disaster “purely for entertainment purposes.”
Earlier this week, Mayor Julie Morin of Lac-Mégantic, who made a similar request, was told by a representative of the streaming service that Netflix would work to ensure no future productions on its platform would use the images.
Roy said she was perplexed over why Netflix chose to use the footage in the first place.
“These archives should never be intended for use other than for information or documentary purposes,” she wrote.
“Under no circumstances should we tolerate the use of human tragedies of any kind for entertainment. Both morally and ethically, it is simply inadmissible.”
Roy goes on to point out that the community of Lac-Mégantic is still trying to recover from the incident before she takes aim at Hastings himself.
“And if it had touched one of your relatives, Mr. Hastings, how would you have reacted by learning that a multinational was using images reminiscent of heavy and dark memories and only for profit?” she asked.
“We can only deplore such a lack of compassion, empathy and solidarity towards all those affected by this horrible tragedy.”
Roy also questioned whether it was time for big players in film, television and web to develop a code of ethics to avoid similar situations in the future.
Roy posted a full copy of the letter to her Twitter account on Saturday morning. While some lauded her efforts, others criticized the minister for seemingly having written the letter in French only.
Global News reached out to Netflix for comment but has yet to receive a response.
—With files from the Canadian Press