Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos defends his decision to retain comedian Dave Chappell’s controversial special “The Closer” on the streaming service.
In a Friday staff memo from Variety and The Verge, Sarandos pledged Netflix’s special commitment despite the backlash over the comedian’s transphobic comments. “Chappell is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long-standing contract with him,” Sarandos wrote in Chappell’s defense.
He continued: “Like all our other talents, we work hard to support their creative independence – which means there’s always content on Netflix, but some people believe it’s harmful, like ‘cuties,’ ‘365 days,’ ’13 causes, or’ my unconventional life. ‘ “
Chappell criticized For her special views on the transgender community, including the defense of author JK Rowling, who suggests that intersecting sex with gender and changing one’s biological sex is a threat to her own gender identity.
“He canceled JK Rowling – my god,” Chappell said. “She said the gender was the truth. The trans community was mad that (the interpreter). They started calling her TERF. … I agree that Team TERF. I agree, man, gender is a fact.”
TERF is an acronym that describes “trans exclusionary radical feminists” and transphobic feminists.
In the memo, Sarandos used Chappell’s earlier special “Sticks & Stones” as an example, writing “controversial” and “our most watched, glued and most award-winning stand-up special.”
Reached Netflix for comment.
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Sarandos said Netflix doesn’t believe “The Closer” promotes hate speech.
“Many of you have asked,” Where do we draw the line? “
“However, I recognize that it is difficult to distinguish between definition and harm, especially the stand-up comedy that pushes boundaries. The most important part of our content contribution.”
“The Closer,” the sixth installment of the comedian’s Netflix deal, describes the comedian’s “Chapel’s Show” as “his last special of a minute,” following Dababy’s rapper’s homophobic comments about race, the coronavirus epidemic, and his tongue-in-cheek talk.
Chappell and the streaming platform have been criticized by many on social media, including writer Jaclyn Moore, who also serves as the showrunner of Netflix’s “Dear White People.”
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“I was thrown on the walls because,‘ I’m not a ‘real’ woman, ”“ Moore, who is transgender, Tweeted “I threw beer bottles at me. So, @ Netflix, I’m done.”
The advocacy group GLAAD responded to Monday’s memo.
“Netflix has a policy that content designed to incite hatred or violence is not allowed on the platform, but we all know that anti-LGBTQ content does exactly that,” Glad said in a statement. Stories, now is the time for Netflix executives to listen to LGBTQ employees, industry leaders and audiences and live up to their own standards.
Last week, the group tweeted that Chappell’s brand is “synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized communities.”
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Contributors: Elise Briscoe, Sydney Henderson