Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos addressed outrage from some inside the company over a new comedy special featuring legendary comedian Dave Chappelle, saying that the company supports Chappelle’s “artistic freedom.”
The Netflix special “The Closer” has been widely praised by many online and in reviews with audience scores reaching as high as 97% on the popular website Rotten Tomatoes. Chappelle triggered the far-left with jokes about the trans community, defending J.K. Rowling, and going after the LGBT community for trying to cancel a rapper over a comment the rapper made.
“In a Friday memo sent after Netflix’s quarterly business review, a two-day gathering of the top 500 employees at the company, Sarandos offered guidance on how managers should handle upset employees and angry talent speaking out against Chappelle,” Variety reported. “It was the same meeting crashed by three junior staffers, one of whom was an out trans person who was critical of Chappelle on Twitter last week. All three were suspended, an [sic] an investigation is pending.”
Sarandos’ full memo stated:
I wanted to follow-up on the “The Closer” — Dave Chappelle’s latest special — as several of you have reached out following QBR asking what to say to your teams. It never feels good when people are hurting, especially our colleagues, so I wanted to give you some additional context. You should also be aware that some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.
Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long standing deal with him. His last special “Sticks & Stones,” also controversial, is our most watched., stickiest and most award winning stand-up special to date. As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom – even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful, like “Cuties,” “365 Days,” “13 Reasons Why” or “My Unorthodox Life.””
Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate. We don’t allow titles Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line. I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. 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.
In terms of our commitment to inclusion, we’re working hard to ensure more people see their lives reflected on screen and that under-represented communities are not defined by the singe story. So we’re proud of titles like “Sex Education,” “Young Royals,” “Control Z” and “Disclosure.” Externally, particularly in stand-up comedy, artistic freedom is obviously a very different standard of speech than we allow internally as the goals are different: entertaining people versus maintaining a respectful, productive workplace.
Today’s conversation on Entertain the World was timely. These are hard and uncomfortable issues. We all bring different values and perspectives so thank you for being part of the conversation as it’s important we’re clear about our operating principals.
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