Netflix Co-CEO Ted Sarandos has released a second company-wide memo in less than a week, again defending the streaming service's decision not to pull or alter comedian Dave Chappelle's latest standup special, The Closer, following outrage from the transgender community.
“Chappelle makes harsh jokes about many different groups, which is his style and a reason his fans love his comedy and commentary,” Sarandos wrote in an email, which was first intercepted and reported by Variety. “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."
Sarandos also said that The Closer causes no "real world harm.
“The strongest evidence to support this is that violence on screens has grown hugely over the last 30 years, especially with first party shooter games, and yet violent crime has fallen significantly in many countries,” Sarandos added. “Adults can watch violence, assault and abuse—or enjoy shocking stand-up comedy—without it causing them to harm others.”
Netflix has faced criticism, both internally and externally in places like Twitter, for its decision to drop Chappelle's latest special, in which he uses pointed jokes to highlight claims of hypocrisy and other issues within the LGBTQ community.
Earlier this week, Netflix suspended three employees for crashing a virtual meeting to discuss the PR crisis, only to reinstate them based on the fact that their intentions were allegedly pure.
Now, one of those employees, software engineer Tera Field, is among a number of transgender Netflix staffers planning to walk off the job next week.
Meanwhile, transgender writer-producer Jaclyn Moore, the creative force behind Netflix's Dear White People, said she will no longer work for Netflix.
However, in an earlier staff email, Sarandos lauded the popularity of The Closer and other Chappelle comedy specials, noting that Netflix intends to keep working with the comic. In fact, according to leaked company data, Chappelle's latest special was watched by 10 million accounts within its first week on the service.
Daniel Frankel is the managing editor of Next TV, an internet publishing vertical focused on the business of video streaming. A Los Angeles-based writer and editor who has covered the media and technology industries for more than two decades, Daniel has worked on staff for publications including E! Online, Electronic Media, Mediaweek, Variety, paidContent and GigaOm. His reliable mid-range jump shot, deft ambidextrous post-up game and tough interior defense have been criminally overlooked.
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