Netflix has come under fire recently as the company is surprisingly defending the latest special from comedian Dave Chappelle. Known for pushing boundaries and not being afraid to stir up controversy, Chappelle doubled down in his last special for Netflix called “The Closer.” Among many of the hot topics Chappelle decided to poke fun at was not only cancel culture and the effect it is having on society, but the comedian also poked fun at transgender people. Declaring that “gender is a fact”, the special has drawn intense backlash from the LGBTQ community. But while they demand the special be taken down, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos insists the special isn’t going anywhere.
Although many within the LGBTQ community and even members within Netflix believe the special is transphobic, Sarandos said, “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.” He added, “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.”
Finding Sarandos’s answer not to their liking, some employees, including a transgender one, decided to stage a protest during an executive meeting. Crashing the meeting, the protesters were quickly removed from the room and were promptly suspended.
Hoping the pressure would make the CEO cave, Sarandos released another memo where he again decided not to cancel the special.
“With The Closer, we understand that the concern is not about offensive-to-some content but titles which could increase real-world harm (such as further marginalizing already marginalized groups, hate, violence etc.) Last year, we heard similar concerns about 365 Days and violence against women. While some employees disagree, we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.
In his special, Chappelle makes harsh jokes about many different groups, which is his style and a reason his fans love his comedy and commentary. Stand-up comedians often expose issues that are uncomfortable because the art by nature is a highly provocative. As a leadership team, we do not believe that The Closer is intended to incite hatred or violence against anyone (per our Sensitive Content guidelines).”
The leader for the trans ERG reportedly wrote a memo of their own, obviously bashing Netflix. “Trans Lives Matter. Trans Rights Matter. And as an organization, Netflix has continually failed to show deep care in our mission to Entertain the World by repeatedly releasing content that harms the Trans community and continually failing to create content that represents and uplifts Trans content. We can and must do better!”