Ted Sarandos, the co-CEO of Netflix, has addressed staff members on the streamer’s controversial new Dave Chappelle stand-up special, ‘The Closer.’ The firebrand comedian has drawn criticism from the LGBTQ+ community in recent days over several jokes, specifically around the “thin skin” of trans people and the effects of the so-called “cancel culture.” Rose McGowan Supports Nicki Minaj for Standing Up to ‘Powerful Elite’ Amid Ongoing Controversy.
According to Variety, in a Friday memo sent after Netflix’s quarterly business review, a two-day gathering of the top 500 employees at the company, Sarandos offered guidance on how managers should handle upset employees and angry talent speaking out against Chappelle. It was the same meeting crashed by three junior staffers, one of whom was an out trans person who was critical of Chappelle on Twitter last week. All three were suspended, an investigation is pending.
“Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long-standing deal with him. His last special ‘Sticks and Stones’, also controversial, is our most-watched, stickiest and most award-winning stand-up special to date,” Sarandos wrote in the memo, obtained by Variety. “As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom, even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful,” he added. Miley Cyrus Reaches Out to Rapper DaBaby Amid Homophobic Remarks Controversy.
As examples, Sarandos referenced Netflix content, including ‘Cuties’, the Sundance sensation meant to comment on the “hypersexualiztion of children,” which in turn was accused of promoting lewd images of minors; the teen suicide drama ’13 Reasons Why’; and the unscripted series ‘My Unorthodox Life’ about a fashion executive leaving the Jewish Orthodox faith. GLAAD responded to Sarandos’ memo on Monday, saying anti-LGBTQ content is technically against Netflix policy. “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,” the statement read.
It continued, “While Netflix is home to groundbreaking LGBTQ stories, now is the time for Netflix execs to listen to LGBTQ employees, industry leaders, and audiences and commit to living up to their own standards.” Seeming to address industry rumours that many Netflix employees were incensed by the company’s silence over Chappelle’s remarks about the trans community, Sarandos said, “Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate. We don’t allow titles Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe ‘The Closer’ crosses that line.”
In the memo, Sarandos drew a line between expressing artistic freedom and protecting employees in the workplace. “Particularly in stand-up comedy, artistic freedom is obviously a very different standard of speech than we allow internally as the goals are different: entertaining people versus maintaining a respectful, productive workplace,” he said, as per Variety.
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