Entertainment Netflix Co-CEO Says He 'Screwed Up' amid Backlash Over Dave Chappelle's Comedy Special
Dave Chappelle's Netflix Special The Closer Sparks Backlash from the LGBTQ+ Community
Dave Chappelle's newest comedy special, which dropped on Tuesday, contains jokes directed at the LGBTQ+ community — specifically the trans community — with references to his past dust-ups for similar humor in his previous standup acts. One passage in particular caused a variety of strong reactions on Twitter. "Gender is a fact. Every human being in this room, every human being on earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on earth. That is a fact," Chappelle said in The Closer.
The co-CEO of Netflix says he made errors while handling internal backlash following the release of's latest comedy special.
On Tuesday, Ted Sarandos opened up toabout the criticism he received for how he handled the backlash in response to several controversial jokes about the LGBTQ community Chappelle's The Closer. Sarandos told the outlet that he "obviously screwed up" with addressing the concerns of Netflix employees and explaining the reason he defended Chappelle's "creative freedom" in the project.
Netflix did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Dear White People EP Boycotts Netflix, Calls Dave Chappelle's Special 'Dangerously Transphobic'
GLAAD and the National Black Justice Coalition have also spoken out against the special, titled The Closer , included several jokes directed at the LGBTQ+ community — specifically transgender people — with references to Chappelle's dust-ups for similar humor in his previous standup acts. The material sparked backlash amongst LBGTQ+ people and other social media users following the special's Tuesday release. Moore previously worked with Netflix on Dear White People and told the story of her transition for the streaming service's Pride week programming.
"I should have led with a lot more humanity," Sarandos told Variety. "Meaning, I had a group of employees who were definitely feeling pain and hurt from a decision we made. And I think that needs to be acknowledged up front before you get into the nuts and bolts of anything. I didn't do that. That was uncharacteristic for me."
He continued, "In all my communications I should lean into the humanity up front and not make a blanket statement that could land very differently than it was intended."
Sarandos told the outlet that when it comes to Netflix's protocols for defining hate speech, all employees know that there will be projects on the platform that they might not agree with, noting that everyone has different sensibilities, beliefs, and senses of humor.
GLAAD Urges Netflix To Condemn Hateful Content & Live Up “To Their Own Standards” Amid Dave Chappelle Controversy
Hours after a memo by Netflix’s co-CEO declaring that trans remarks in Dave Chappelle’s latest special didn’t “cross the line” was made public, one of the nation’s leading LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations has called out the streamer for some serious hypocrisy. “Netflix has a policy that content ‘designed to incite hate or violence’ is not allowed on the platform, but we all know that anti-LGBTQ content does exactly that,” said GLAAD Monday in a statement over the controversial The Closer and the suspension of a trans staffer who criticized the streamer over their support of the comedianMore from DeadlineDave Chappelle's Latest Netflix Special Doesn't
Among the comments from Chappelle's comedy show that drew criticism were those specifically targeting the transgender community. Sarandos insisted to Variety that, by definition, he does not believe The Closer falls under hate speech.
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He also maintained that he will not remove the comedy special from Netflix.
"Where we'll definitely draw the line is on something that would intentionally call for physically harming other people or even remove protections. For me, intent to cause physical harm crosses the line, for sure," he told the outlet.
Sarandos shared that he's been having, and will continue to have open discussions with employees about their feelings and what changes they want to see moving forward. Last week, Netflixthree employees who were recently by the streamer for attending the company's quarterly business review meeting uninvited.
Netflix Reinstates Staffer Who Spoke Out Against Dave Chappelle's The Closer Special
Netflix has reinstated Terra Field, a trans software engineer who spoke out against Dave Chappelle's latest comedy special on the streamer, in which she said he "attacks the trans community"Field, a software engineer at Netflix who identifies as transgender, shared on Twitter Tuesday that she has been brought back after she and two other employees attempted to join the company's quarterly business review meeting following her public Twitter thread speaking out against Dave Chappelle's latest Netflix comedy special, The Closer.
The suspension occurred after one of the employees, Terra Field — who identifies as queer and transgender — publicly condemned the streaming service's decision to release the special on.
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Sarandos explained in the interview that along with speaking directly to staff about concerns, the company has also invested "enormous amounts" of money into a creative equity fund to share LGBTQ stories, noting that Netflix is "firmly committed" to "creating a great workplace for diverse and marginalized populations."
"One of the things that I think is very important that I want people to understand is that, going forward, it should be really clear that I support artistic freedom and the creators that work at Netflix," Sarandos said. "I'm committed to continuing to increase representation on screen and behind the camera, and I'm always open to learn and improve on how to address these challenges."
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