Amazon Prime has removed the LGBTI documentary Words, by trans filmmaker AJ Mattioli.
The documentary explores the question if identity, especially as it relates to LGBTI people living in New York City. It includes interviews from various LGBTI figures, including Carmen Carrera, Bob The Drag Queen, Miss Fame, and more.
Words initially went up on Amazon Prime over a year ago. However, the company decided to remove it on 17 January.
GSN spoke directly to AJ Mattioli about the issue. Mattioli explains his production company received a message stating that Words would be pulled from their streaming service.
‘We are always listening to customer feedback and iterating on their behalf,’ one email from Amazon reads. ‘During a quality assurance review, we found that these titles contain content that does not meet our customer content quality expectations. As a result, all offers for your title have been removed and may not be made available as “Included with Prime” or to Buy/Rent on Amazon.’
‘Unfortunately, this decision may not be appealed. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. We will not be accepting resubmission of the impacted titles. This change will not impact any royalties accrued through the date. Note that republishing any film that has been removed is prohibited; doing so may result in your account being suspended.’
Mattioli replied with the following:
‘This title been on Amazon Prime for very long time. What was so bad about this title that was taking down? Could it be a system glitch? Please help us keep our titles live. Looking at the many positive comments on this important intellectual contribution to the LGBTQ+ community, I do not understand at all how it does not fulfill the quality expectations. This has been clearly been a misunderstanding and we expect the matter to be resolved with promptness.’
Friends and fans of Mattioli’s also emailed Amazon, complaining about the removal of Words.
One fan, Kathleen, reached out to Amazon, asking why Words was removed.
An Amazon representative responded saying, ‘We don’t have any details about why this particular title may have been removed.’
Many people who contacted Amazon were given contradictory information about the status of the film. Some were told Mattioli removed it (he didn’t). Others, like Kathleen, were told Amazon didn’t have any details about the film’s removal.
Mattioli’s production company reached out a second time with the following note:
‘We’d like to inform that [we were] shocked and disappointment in Amazon’s contradictory behavior in regards to the matter of the film “Words.” You’ve informed me that AMAZON decided to remove the title because it didn’t meet the quality standards of Prime. But once the content creator reached out, they were told [they took it down], which we did not. And we want it back up on Amazon Prime, please.’
‘Have the filmmakers been misinformed? We would like a resolution in regards to this matter, please, as soon as possible. We haven’t done anything wrong. And when the filmmakers and fans of that movie reached out to Amazon, they were informed that we asked Amazon to take it down which wasn’t true, at all.’
Amazon has yet to respond to that email.
In Mattioli’s words
For Mattioli, this is a case of censorship.
‘In 2019, while hate crimes on on the rise, my film “Words” was a song of hope and happiness for the future,’ Mattioli tells GSN. ‘Having it be censored in a time when people are being killed for simply being themselves is heartbreaking and feels transphobic/homophobic.’
GSN has reached out to Amazon’s PR team for comment.