Byron Bay locals protest new over Netflix reality show

Netflix’s planned show Byron Baes has caused quite the stir among Byron Bay locals, who are worried a program following ‘influencers’ would damage their beachside paradise.

There are now more than 9000 signatures on a petition named ‘Boycott Byron Baes‘, but Netflix is seemingly undeterred by the campaign.

Netflix says the show is a “docu-soap” and a “love letter to Byron Bay” that will follow the lives of “hot Instagrammers” and their “fights, flings and heartbreak” in the coastal town.

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Some locals are worried the show will make a mockery of the town, but it’s not just the town’s image they’re concerned about.

Environmental campaigner Sue Arnold has lived in Byron Bay for 30 years.

“It’s going to turn Byron Bay into the bullshit capital of the east coast,” she said.

“This is a community that’s being destroyed by tourism, by festivals and to have this kind of program is going to brand Byron as being a totally shallow insincere place of nonsense.”

“When you have something going out to 200 million people globally it is going to inundate this town. We have the worst homelessness we’ve ever had here,” Ms Nolan said.

Locals have fallen victim to the influx of tourists and newcomers; some have even been evicted from their long-term rental properties to make way for holiday lets and Airbnbs. 

Read more: Australian towns and local governments declare war on Airbnb

Dozens of protesters staged a paddle-out against the docu-soap last week, while other locals displayed placards that read ‘give Netflix the flick’ and ‘consult traditional owners’.

However, the outrage is actually creating free publicity for the streaming giant, that will be “loving” the attention, a leading marketing expert says.

Associate Professor David Waller, who heads the University of Technology Sydney’s marketing faculty, said the protesters were giving the show they hate free publicity.

“Netflix will be loving it. It’s getting them a lot of free publicity and coverage on television networks,” Dr Waller, who has previously worked in the film industry, said.

“It’s a clever strategy, a lot of companies will use controversy to build awareness . . . if you’re getting your opposition to talk about you, you must be doing something right.”

The campaign has attracted significant media attention, and even made headlines internationally.

Read more: Byron Bay: three top spots it has to offer

Que Minh Luu, director of content for Netflix ANZ, released the following statement.

Byron Baes will aim to build a connection between the people we meet in the show, and ourselves as the audience.

The reason behind choosing Byron Bay as a location was driven by the area’s unique attributes as a melting pot of entrepreneurialism, lifestyle and health practices, and the sometimes uneasy coming together of the traditional ‘old Byron’ and the alternative ‘new’, all of which we’ll address in the series.”

The locals managed to keep out McDonald’s and Club Med, so who knows what will happen to Byron Baes.

What do you think of reality TV? Would a TV show change your perception of a location?

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Written by Ellie Baxter

Writer and editor with interests in travel, health, wellbeing and food. Has knowledge of marketing psychology, social media management and is a keen observer and commentator on issues facing older Australians.

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