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Netflix CEO Defends Controversial Chappelle Special In For-Staff-Only Memo
By Alexa Heah, 15 Oct 2021
Image via Natee Meepian / Shutterstock.com
Earlier this week, Netflix got caught up in a bit of a furore when an employee who called out transphobic “jokes” in a Dave Chappelle special was suspended from her position.
Although she’s since been reinstated, and the company said her suspension had nothing to do with a Twitter thread she wrote, the LGBTQ+ community is still campaigning against the firm’s decision to keep the stand-up comedy show on its roster.
Previously, Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos had weighed in on the issue, addressing staff in a memo that read, “Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean-spirited, but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”
He said the streaming site “draws the line on hate,” and that it doesn’t offer programs “designed to incite hate or violence.” The site has also said it encourages its staff to openly disagree, and that no one would be punished for airing their thoughts and opinions on social media.
Now, Sarandos has sent yet another mass memo to the company, which could be a response to emerging rumors of a walkout protest. First reported by Variety, the new letter supported his initial statement, saying, “While some employees disagree, we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”
He backed up his claim by citing examples of how violence has appeared on screens for decades, despite the rate of violent crime falling in recent years. “Adults can watch violence, assault or abuse — or enjoy shocking stand-up comedy — without it causing them to harm others,” he added.
This sentiment is unlikely to appease disappointed fans, who feel that Netflix is sweeping the problem of transphobia under a rug.
LGBTQ+ representatives themselves are hitting back, as queer attorney Preston Mitchum wrote, “Make no mistake, Chappelle’s alleged jokes do not impact hypothetical people; they, in fact, cause real harm to transgender and nonbinary viewers and Black LGBTQ youth who may have once looked up to him as a role model.”
If Sarandos was trying to quell the uproar — this move may not be it. Users on social media are taking even more offense at his latest memo, especially when the chief executive said he was “working hard to ensure marginalized communities aren’t defined by a single story,” which seems to contradict what Chappelle’s special stood for.
[via Variety, cover image via Natee Meepian / Shutterstock.com]
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