By Mary Biekert | Bloomberg
Netflix Inc. CEO Ted Sarandos again defended the company’s decision to air a controversial Dave Chappelle comedy special with jokes about transgender people, denying it would cause “real-world harm,” he wrote in an email. email to staff on Monday.
“Chappelle makes tough jokes about many different groups, which is his style and one of the reasons his fans love his comedy and comments,” Sarandos wrote in an email obtained by Variety. Comedians often expose subjects that are uncomfortable because art by nature is so provocative. As a leadership team, we do not believe that The Closer is intended to incite hatred or violence against anyone. “
Netflix has come under fire last week for airing Dave Chappelle’s “The Closer,” which has drawn criticism both internally and online. Netflix transgender employees are planning a strike next week to protest the company’s decision to air the show after some employees raised concerns about the material before the show debuted last week. Company leaders, including TV global director Bela Bajaria and Sarandos, decided the show didn’t cross any lines.
Transgender writer and producer of the Netflix series “Dear White People,” Jaclyn Moore said last week that she would no longer work for the streaming service, while Terra Field, a senior software engineer at the company, took to Twitter. to express your concerns through a chain. of tweets that went viral. On Monday, the company suspended Field and two other employees for allegedly disrupting an executive meeting last week; Since then, Field has been reinstated, according to tweets he posted Tuesday.
More than 1,000 people have called or texted the company to complain about the special in the few days since its launch, a person familiar with those metrics told Bloomberg this week. That’s more complaints than Chappelle’s previous special “Sticks & Stones”, but less than other controversial shows like “Cuties.”
In a different memo that Sarandos wrote to staff on Friday in response to the backlash from the show, Sarandos praised Chappelle as the most-watched comedian on Netflix and told staff that the company has a long-standing contract with the comedian, stating that Chappelle’s last stage was one of the best. “The most watched, catchiest and most awarded stand-up special to date” on the streaming platform.
Ten million people have streamed “The Closer” since its debut on October 5, according to a person familiar with the viewer numbers. Co-CEO Reed Hastings said on an internal message board that Netflix “will continue to work with Dave Chappelle in the future,” according to transcripts reviewed by Bloomberg News.
This is not the first time that one of their specials has angered the trans community or Netflix employees. Members of the Black @ Netflix and Trans * employee groups have previously met with company leadership to discuss another Chappelle special and express their dismay that the company continues to run shows with transphobic sentiments.
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