An Open Letter to Netflix
October 2, 2023
Mr. Scott Stuber
100 Winchester Circle
Los Gatos CA 95032
Mr. B.V.S.N. Prasad
Sri Venkateswara Cine Chitra
H, NO.8-3-833/277, PHASE II KAMALAPURI COLONY
HYDERABAD TG 500073 IN
Dear Mr. Stuber and Prasad,
I write this open letter to urge Netflix to discontinue streaming Gandeevadhari Arjuna. I write on behalf of the Foundation for Ichthyosis and Related Skin Types (FIRST), and thousands of people petitioning via change.org.
FIRST is the largest ichthyosis patient advocacy organization in the world. With more than 10,000 members, FIRST represents patients, families, medical professionals, and researchers. Our mission is to improve lives and seek cures for those living with ichthyosis and related skin types.
FIRST is demanding the legal, ethical, and accurate representation of ichthyosis and related skin types. Simply put, we are demanding basic human rights for people with ichthyosis.
We have two primary concerns with Gandeevadhari Arjuna:
- The film features stolen footage of individuals with ichthyosis used without their consent.
- The film depicts ichthyosis as a result of toxic waste.
Ichthyosis (ick·thee·oh·sis) is a family of 28+ genetic skin disorders characterized by dry, scaling skin that may be thickened or very thin. It is caused by genetic mutations. It is not caused by toxic waste.
In most cases, the genetic mutation that causes ichthyosis is passed from parent to child. Often, neither parent exhibits the disorder themselves, but they are carriers of the defective gene. There are two other very rare causes:
1. spontaneous genetic mutation,
2. late-onset ichthyosis as a manifestation of other diseases or conditions.
People living with ichthyosis and related skin types face incredibly challenging and uncomfortable symptoms. This film does an enormous disservice to the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of people affected with these diseases. Typically, their skin cracks, bleeds, scales, and sheds continuously. They face increased risk of melanoma, struggles with sweating, difficulty growing hair, scalp issues, and frequent infections. Physical health struggles include joint issues, hydration, dry eyes, impaired hearing, and overheating. Some types of ichthyoses have associated conditions affecting organ systems. Emotional and mental health are commonly impacted with anxiety and depression due to bullying, ostracization, isolation, low self-esteem and discrimination in schools and workplaces around the world.
Film is a powerful medium which can be used to educate, inspire, and connect humanity. Instead, Gandeevadhari Arjuna adds another threat to our community, by misinforming and dividing humanity, and victimizing our people. Footage and imagery of living, breathing humans struggling with this disease or any other should not be exploited for shock value. Using depictions of young children struggling to survive while their parents experience the incredible stress of their extremely difficult birth and first few weeks of life cannot be used as a proxy for the harms of toxic waste to fit your plot line. It sets back disability advocacy efforts by decades and directly opposes Netflix’s commitment to promoting inclusivity, diversity, and awareness in their programming.
FIRST urges Netflix to remove Gandeevadhari Arjuna from its platform and urges the filmmakers to edit the film to remove the illegal and misleading portrayal of people with ichthyosis. The film’s misrepresentation of ichthyosis not only undermines the dignity of people living with the conditions, but also contributes to societal misconceptions.
Christopher Boynton, CEO