According to media watchdogs, Netflix’s new nature documentary “Our Blue Marvel,” has a clear bias in favor of coral reefs.
“For a show to claim that it’s nonfiction, it should be held to certain standards of impartiality,” wrote media journalist Raquel Norman for her organization, Fairness in Communication. “When the documentary’s narrator says things like ‘we need to work to save these wonders of the sea from disastrous industrial pollution,’ the show loses all credibility. Why do the reefs get to be called ‘wonders’ but industry gets called ‘disastrous?’ Do they really expect us not to notice the tricks they’re playing here?”
Norman and her peers also called out the show’s use of swelling orchestral music and bright lighting to accompany shots of healthy reefs, while switching to somber music and grey color grading for dead patches of ocean covered in plastic. Norman notes that these techniques are just one subtle way that the documentary makes viewers believe that one of these two scenes is inherently better than the other.
“It’s important that we all stay vigilant to form our own opinions and not get swayed by what we see on TV or read online,” continued Norman in her article which went viral last week. “Yes, coral reefs can be pretty, but it’s important to highlight the other side of the story. Many hardworking men and women toil tirelessly day in and day out to destroy the coral reefs, but we don’t see them getting their own multimillion-dollar TV shows to defend themselves.”
In response to mounting pressure, Netflix now precedes the documentary with a title card acknowledging the bias and has pledged to donate half of the show’s proceeds to oil companies.