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Netflix's CEO Defends Dave Chappelle Amid Backlash Over 'The Closer'

Netflix's CEO Defends Dave Chappelle Amid Backlash Over 'The Closer'

If you missed it, Dave Chappelle is facing backlash after making anti-trans and LGBTQIA+ statements in his new comedy special The Closer.

In part, he said, “Gender is a fact. Every human being in this room, every human being on earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on earth. That is a fact.” He also said that “trans women” genitalia are “not quite what it is.”

Now, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos is breaking his silence on the backlash.

“Chapelle is one of the most popular stand-up 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 special to date,” he wrote in a memo. “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.”

Click inside to read the full note, and other titles Sarandos compared this to…

Read Ted Sarandos’ full note to the company (via Variety)…

“I wanted to follow-up on the “The Closer” — Dave Chappelle’s latest special — as several of you have reached out following QBR asking what to say to your teams. It never feels good when people are hurting, especially our colleagues, so I wanted to give you some additional context. You should also be aware that some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.

Chapelle is one of the most popular stand-up 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 special to date. 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, like “Cuties,” “365 Days,” “13 Reasons Why” or “My Unorthodox Life.””

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. I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean-spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.

In terms of our commitment to inclusion, we’re working hard to ensure more people see their lives reflected on screen and that under-represented communities are not defined by the singe story. So we’re proud of titles like “Sex Education,” “Young Royals,” “Control Z” and “Disclosure.” Externally, 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.

Today’s conversation on Entertain the World was timely. These are hard and uncomfortable issues. We all bring different values and perspectives so thank you for being part of the conversation as it’s important we’re clear about our operating principals.”

Find out who is declining to work with Netflix over this controversy.

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Photos: Getty
Posted to: Dave Chappelle, Netflix

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