Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos weighed in on streaming giant’s role in controversy surrounding Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special The closest.
Released on October 5, Chappelle’s material on the show has been accused of including transphobic comments. The comedian’s controversial jokes along with the disappointing reaction from Netflix have prompted many celebrities and employees to speak out.
While Netflix initially upheld its decision to back Chappelle, Sarandos appears to have backed down ahead of today’s (October 20) employee walkout hosted by trans and LGBTQ + staff, content creators and allies.
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“Obviously, I messed up this internal communication,” admitted Sarandos in a Q&A with Variety.
“I did, and I messed up in two ways. First and foremost, I should have led with a lot more humanity. This means that I had a group of employees who were definitely feeling pain and grief because of a decision we made. And I think that needs to be recognized up front before I go into the details of anything.
“It wasn’t characteristic for me, and it was moving fast and we were trying to answer some really specific questions that were floating around. We landed with much more general and concrete things that are not at all accurate. ” he added.
As of this writing, the “Stand in Solidarity” walkout – led by activist Ashlee Marie Preston – is currently underway.
The organizers are not asking Netflix to remove the Dave Chappelle special, but the streaming service to create a fund to develop trans and non-binary workers in the entertainment industry.
Netflix previously released a statement announcing that it would respect the workers who participated in the walkout:
“We value our trans colleagues and allies and understand the profound harm that has been caused. We respect the decision of any employee who chooses to opt out and recognize that we have a lot more work to do both within Netflix and in our content. ”
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Sarandos also explained to Variety what Netflix sees as hate speech as a way to justify comments from Chappelle, whose special is still available to stream on the platform.
“Sometimes, and we make sure our people understand that, because of that – because we’re trying to entertain the world, and the world is made up of people with a lot of different sensibilities and beliefs and sense of humor and all of these things – sometimes there will be things on Netflix that you don’t like. Which you even find harmful, ”he said.
“Where we’re definitely going to draw the line is on something that would intentionally call for physically injuring other people or even removing protections. For me, the intention to cause physical damage crosses the line, that’s for sure, ”he added.
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