Netflix’s Ted Sarandos defends Dave Chappelle special

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Photo: Dominique Charriau / WireImage

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos told staff that Dave Chappelle’s comedy special The closest does not cross the streaming service’s “hate line” in an October 9 memo obtained by variety. “I do recognize, however, that it’s hard to distinguish between commentary and prejudice, especially with the stand-up comedy that exists to push the boundaries,” Sarandos wrote. “Some people find the art of stand-up petty, but our members appreciate it, and it’s an important part of our content offering. Chappelle’s special has been criticized as anti-trans by LGBTQ + groups and individuals, including the Netflix trans software engineer Terra Field, who spoke out against the special on Twitter and a would have since been suspended along with two other employees for crashing the company’s quarterly activity review without an invitation. (Netflix said no employees have been suspended for tweets about the show.) According to the variety, Sarandos responded to concerns about Chappelle’s special during the trade review and sent the memo after the event.

In the post, Sarandos noted that Netflix has a long-standing deal with Chappelle, adding that the comedian’s latest special, Sticks & Stones, was also controversial and garnered more views and awards than any of the streaming service’s other specials to date. By referring to some of Netflix’s other controversial titles, such as Cute and 13 reasons why, Sarandos said Netflix strives to support “creative freedom – even if that means there will always be content on Netflix that some people think is harmful.” The co-CEO said the company is committed to inclusion and is proud to offer shows like Sex education and Young Royals. However, he said, “especially in stand-up, artistic freedom is obviously a very different standard of speech than what we allow internally, because the goals are different: to entertain people versus to maintain. a respectful and productive workplace “.

I wanted to follow up The closest – Dave Chappelle’s last special – as several of you reached out after QBR to ask your teams what to say. It never feels good when people are in pain, especially our colleagues, so I wanted to give you some additional context. Also be aware that some talent may join with third parties to ask us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.

Chappelle is one of the most popular 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 to date. As with our other talents, we work hard to support their creative freedom – even if that means there will always be content on Netflix that some people think is harmful, like Cute, 365 days, 13 reasons why, Where My unorthodox life.

Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate. We do not allow titles designed to incite hatred or violence on Netflix, and we do not believe The closest crosses that line. I do recognize, however, that it’s hard to distinguish between commentary and prejudice, especially with the stand-up comedy that exists to push the boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up petty, but our members appreciate it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.

When it comes to our commitment to inclusion, we work hard to ensure that more people see their lives reflected on screen and that underrepresented communities are not defined by a single story. So we are proud of titles like Sex education, Young Royals, Z control and Disclosure. Externally, especially in the stand-up, artistic freedom is obviously a very different standard of speech than what we allow internally because the goals are different: entertaining people versus maintaining a respectful and productive workplace.

Today’s conversation on Entertain the World was timely. These are difficult and uncomfortable problems. We all bring different values ​​and perspectives, so thank you for participating in the conversation as it is important that we are clear about our operating principles.

-Ted


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