Trans employees at the streaming giant Netflix are planning a walkout on October 20th to protest transphobic remarks made by comedian Dave Chappelle in his latest special The Closer. Now, a leaked internal memo shows that Ted Sarandos, the co-CEO of Netflix, continues to show support for the funny man despite internal and external pressures from the LGBTQ+ community and its allies.
A memo was sent out on Monday, October 11, by Sarandos intended to address pushback from the public over the content and potential real-world violence that it might cause. Sarandos also included some out-of-touch comparisons to video game violence.
“We know that a number of you have been left angry, disappointed and hurt by our decision to put Dave Chappelle’s latest special on Netflix… With ‘The Closer,’ we understand that the concern is not about offensive-to-some content but titles which could increase real world harm (such as further marginalizing already marginalized groups, hate, violence etc.) Last year, we heard similar concerns about 365 Days and violence against women. While some employees disagree, we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.
Sarandos does not appear to cite anything other than an internal anecdote to support this statement. Nowhere did the co-CEO mention that the company is listening to the complaints.
Brushed aside as a simple matter of free expression and personal responsibility, Sardanos continued. His out-of-touch tone continued as he mistakenly referred to first-person shooters as “first party shooters.” Hello to you, too, fellow kids. It’s pretty rich coming from the guy whose company fired a trans employee for complaining.
“The strongest evidence to support this is that violence on screens has grown hugely over the last thirty years, especially with first party shooter games, and yet violent crime has fallen significantly in many countries. Adults can watch violence, assault and abuse – or enjoy shocking stand-up comedy – without it causing them to harm others.”
Sarandos seems to be missing the point. Just because the content doesn’t translate directly into mass shootings and hate crimes doesn’t make it morally acceptable. Having never been in those shoes, I cannot imagine being a young person who feels a certain way about themselves, during a time of self-discovery and growth, only to see it be casually called unnatural and mocked. Netflix needs to start listening, at the absolute minimum.
Is the Netflix Dave Chappelle controversy about hate or do you see it is a free speech issue? Let us know in the comments!