- Netflix’s co-CEO sent a memo defending the decision to stream Dave Chappelle’s new special.
- In the memo, he said that content “doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”
- Some people pointed out that a Netflix documentary, “Disclosure,” argues otherwise.
Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos issued another defense of the company releasing Dave Chappelle’s controversial new standup special, “The Closer,” in which Sarandos said “content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world hard.”
That sentiment prompted a slew of people, including the creator of Netflix’s “BoJack Horseman,” to point out that a Netflix documentary, called “Disclosure,” argues the exact opposite.
In “The Closer,” Chappelle makes transphobic comments that have sparked a backlash from some Netflix employees.
“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.),” Sarandos wrote in part. “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.”
In light of Sarandos’ memo, people including critics, industry professionals, and activists have pointed to a documentary, Netflix’s “Disclosure,” that suggests otherwise.
A Netflix spokesperson declined to comment for this story.
“If only Sarandos had access to a documentary called ‘Disclosure’ that makes a very convincing argument about the many ways content has translated to real-world harm for the trans community,” Rolling Stone chief TV critic Alan Sepinwall tweeted. “It’s on … [checks notes] … Netflix.”
Raphael Bob-Waksberg, who created Netflix’s adult animated comedy “BoJack Horseman,” tweeted: “There’s a very good documentary called ‘Disclosure’ that I would recommend to anyone who works in the content biz. It’s on Netflix.”
In a statement to Variety in response to Sarandos’ comments, GLAAD also cited the documentary.
“Authentic media stories about LGBTQ lives have been cited as directly responsible for increasing public support for issues like marriage equality,” GLAAD said. “But film and TV have also been filled with stereotypes and misinformation about us for decades, leading to real world harm, especially for trans people and LGBTQ people of color. Ironically, the documentary ‘Disclosure’ on Netflix demonstrates this quite clearly.”
After “The Closer” debuted, some Netflix employees spoke out against the release of the special. Notably, Terra Field, a senior software engineer who is trans, went viral on Twitter last week, saying that Chappelle “attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness – all while trying to pit us against other marginalized groups.”
Field and two other employees were suspended last week for attending an executive meeting they were not invited to, The Verge and Variety reported, but have since been reinstated following an investigation. Netflix issued a statement this week pushing back against the notion that the employees were suspended for any criticism of the Chappelle special.
“It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employees for tweeting about this show,” a Netflix spokesperson said. “Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so.”
Sarandos’ all-staff memo follows a memo to executives last week, in response to questions fielded during the aforementioned executive meeting, in which he defended the special by calling Chappelle “one of the most popular stand-up comedians today.”
Now, Netflix’s trans employee resource group is planning a company-wide walkout on October 20, The Verge reported on Wednesday.
In the special, Chappelle said that “gender is a fact” and defended “Harry Potter” author JK Rowling, who has also been criticized for transphobic comments. Rowling has identified as a “TERF” (trans exclusionary radical feminist), and Chappelle exclaimed “Team TERF!” in his special.