Why the ‘Maya the Bee’ Penis Debacle Might Change Netflix, and the Internet, Forever


(Photo: Netflix)

All it took was a crude piece of phallic graffiti to raise big questions about how Netflix approves content.

A show named Maya the Bee, a kids cartoon that’s been on the streaming service for several years, has sparked controversy after one mom spotted a piece of very suspicious imagery in one of the episodes.

Taking to the internet to complain about the inappropriate content, the woman argued that at one point, the background of the episode shows graffiti in the shape of a penis.

But, hey, we all know how soccer moms can get! Sometimes they end up reading too much into this kind of-

Source: Netflix


No, yeah, there’s no mistaking it. That’s definitely a penis.

The first big question that people have been asking is, how did this get into a Netflix kid’s show? The answer isn’t clear at present, but there are bigger concerns that needs to be raised.

With things like this accidentally sneaking into shows that Netflix publishes, should there be some kind of more strict content review process for the streaming service?

Or, should ratings and content warnings be more prevalent on Netflix’s content platform? Should age verification for inappropriate material be mandatory?

Should Netflix stop publishing kids content that it hasn’t produced internally, in order to avoid this kind of controversy in future?

Should parents really be the ones responsible for monitoring every frame of Netflix content in order to weed out all the inappropriate stuff?

The answer to all of these question is: it’s complicated.

There’s no hard and fast rule about any of these things. Netflix, as an online service, mostly exists under the same rules as the rest of the internet. In other words, there are no rules.

No big governing bodies. No ratings board, or public review system. Well, not in the same league as television or movie censors, that is. What systems are in place are controlled by Netflix itself, rather than a big institution set up by the White House to make sure that all content is carefully labelled based on its tone, style, and levels of sex, violence, and swearing.

Source: Getty

Conversations are definitely going on within Netflix at the moment as to whether their monitoring systems are shrewd enough. This kind of story is a major embarrassment for the platform, costing them the respectability that they crave, and there’s no doubt that they will respond to it in some way.

This could simply mean tighter controls over what content Netflix buys for its audience. Alternatively, it could lead to greater censorship, more clarification on age ratings, or Netflix could simply start dropping problematic content altogether.

Meanwhile, similar conversations are probably happening within governmental bodies. Is it time for Netflix to be policed in the same way that movies and television are policed?

If so, where should the line be drawn? Do other streaming services also need to be rated and monitored for content?

What about YouTube? That’s not really any different to Netflix, except in terms of the number of different content creators involved.

Does the whole internet need to be constantly monitored, with inappropriate material being removed by governmental mandate?

It may sound crazy, but that’s probably the way things are going. It’s the way things are already in some countries around the world, such as China, where websites disappear in an instant if they show off anything deemed unpatriotic.

Eventually, the internet might well look a lot different.

It’s not all because of a penis showing up in a kid’s cartoon on Netflix. This new case of inappropriate content certainly hasn’t helped things, though.