Internet erupted after Nation of Islam leader touted Netflix debut of documentary My Life's Journey Through Music
Netflix is dealing with major fallout after the streaming service appeared to announce the release of a documentary on controversial Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, only to quickly backtrack.
A company spokesperson on Tuesday denied Netflix intended to stream My Life's Journey Through Music, a film the Nation of Islam describes as a "14 year labor of love" documenting the minister's work and his connection with music.
We apologize for any confusion this has caused.
"This film will not be released on Netflix,” the spokesperson clarified. “Due to an internal miscommunication, it appeared to be scheduled for release on Netflix, but it is not. We apologize for any confusion this has caused.”
Farrakhan announced the film would debut on Netflix today (August 1), provoking an intense reaction on social media. Twitter account @PoliticalHedge posted, "Netflix Offers Anti-Semite, Homophobe Farrakhan Documentary Starting August 1st."
Twitter user M. Zuhdi Jasser wrote, "That's it... 'an internal miscommunication?' If Netflix was honest they'd now budget an expose of the deep seeded [sic] bigotry, hate, and separatism which is Louis Farrakhan and NOI [Nation of Islam]."
The Simon Wiesenthal Center praised Netflix for pulling the documentary, tweeting its "kudos." But other Twitter users condemned Netflix for not going forward with it. One tweeted, "If Netflix will NOT air Minister Farrakhan's documentary, ALL BLACK PEOPLE should boycott Netflix." Another tweeted word she had cancelled her Netflix subscription over the streamer's decision.
A teaser-trailer for the film suggests it documents the making of Farrakhan's box music set, a project that included the participation of Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Snoop Dogg, Deniece Williams, Kenny Gamble and other prominent figures in the industry.
The Nation of Islam website says the box set and film offer "a glimpse into the heart and soul of a man who has sacrificed nearly his entire life to the ongoing mission of his teacher, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad in the resurrection and salvation of Black people and oppressed people of the world."
In a video posted on Twitter, Minister Farrakhan said the music project was inspired by one of his violin teachers, Charles Veal. And interestingly -- given Farrakhan's long history of anti-Semitic remarks -- he also hailed Jascha Heifetz, a Lithuanian-born Jew, as "the greatest violinist, in my opinion, that the world has seen."
The Nation of Islam website notes Let’s Change The World "was recorded in 16 studios across the country including Mosque Maryam in Chicago" and features 45 songs in a variety of genres including "classical, gospel and jazz, folk, opera, rap, reggae and calypso."
The site also comments, "Min. Farrakhan... began playing violin as a little boy and was a popular entertainer known as 'The Charmer' before joining the Nation of Islam and becoming a student of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad in 1955."
This is the teaser-trailer:
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.