Netflix CEO defends Dave Chappelle’s transphobia via email

Comedian and transphobic Dave Chappelle.

Photo: Stacy Revere (Getty Images)

Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special, The closest, contains very sad and very harmful anti-trans comments. Faced with much criticism of his company’s decision to fund and air the special, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos decided to email the entire company twice. , which only makes matters worse.

When the show was first released on Netflix, prominent trans employee and two co-workers have been suspended by the company for publicly denouncing Chappelle and then crashing at a high-level meeting (and after the public backlash was only restored a day later). Sarandos sent a memo defending Chappelle on Friday, saying, “Chappelle is one of the most popular comedians today, and we have a long-standing deal with him. His latest ‘Sticks & Stones’ special, also controversial, is our most watched, stickiest and most award-winning stand-up special yet ”.

Employees are now planning a ‘virtual walkout’ in protest, and in response to the lingering tensions, Sarandos has decided to double down and issue another note. First obtained by Variety, it reads (emphasis mine):

We know a number of you were angry, disappointed and hurt by our decision to put Dave Chappelle’s latest special on Netflix. Additionally, we have many new colleagues who want to better understand the principles that guide our team’s content choices, especially with challenging titles like this.

Our goal is to entertain the world, which means programming for a variety of tastes. This member-centric vision has fueled our growth over the past 20 years, despite all the competition, and remains Netflix’s north star today. We also support artistic freedom to help attract the best creators and fend off demands for censorship from government and others. Our Entertain the World and Strategy Bets memos, which we have debated at length, are clear on both principles – including trade-offs, that is, we will always have titles that some members and employees don’t like. not or think they are harmful.

With The Closer, we understand that the concern is not about content that is offensive to some, but titles that could increase damage in the real world (like the further marginalization of already marginalized groups, hatred, violence, etc.) Last year, we heard similar concerns about 365 Days and Violence Against Women. While some employees disagree, we have a firm belief that on-screen content doesn’t translate directly into real-world damage.

The strongest evidence to back it up is that screen violence has increased dramatically over the past three decades, especially with first-party shooters, and yet violent crime has declined dramatically in many countries. Adults can watch violence, assault, and abuse – or enjoy shocking stand-up comedy – without it hurting others. We work hard to ensure that marginalized communities are not defined by one story. So we have Sex Education, Orange is the New Black, Control Z, Hannah Gadsby, and Dave Chappelle all on Netflix. The key to this is increasing diversity within the content team itself.

In her special, Chappelle makes tough jokes about many different bands, which is her style and one reason her fans love her comedy and commentary. Comedians often bring up issues that are uncomfortable because art by nature is very provocative. As a management team, we do not believe that The Closer is intended to incite hatred or violence against anyone (in accordance with our sensitive content guidelines).

We’ve had these operating principles around our members’ enjoyment and artistic expression for many years, and the team’s decision to put The Closer on our service was consistent with them. The variety and quality of our content is what members value the most. Our hope is that you can be hugely inspired by entertaining the world, while still living with titles that you think have no place on Netflix. It won’t be the last title that has some of you wondering if you can still love Netflix. I sincerely hope you can.


What the absolute fuck. One of the most popular comedians in the world, standing on stage and proudly saying that he is “the TERF team” (radical feminist trans-exclusionist) makes a unbelievable amount of harm. It literally does nothing but delegitimize and directly attack a whole group of marginalized people. Human being. Trying to ignore this by using anecdotal, unscientific, unrelated video game points, or using only actual physical attacks as the primary measure of “damage,” is a staggering thing to read.

Good luck to each of the 1000 employees participate in the “virtual walkout” next week.


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