Netflix and Dave Chappelle knew that the former’s comedy special, The Closer, would earn them a lot of attention, but it’s doubtful that they could’ve even begun to imagine the backlash that it would also create. The 48-year-old stand-up comedian is currently under fire for making jokes that have been dubbed homophobic, transphobic, and “harmful” by some.
Just over a week ago, the streamer’s CEO, Ted Sarandos, spoke out in defence of Chappelle and his jokes, saying, “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.”
These words from the company’s head, along with some unempathetic internal messaging (the 57-year-old wrote an email to his staff members saying that “we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm”) have prompted several Netflix staff members to stage a walkout, scheduled for today, October 20th.
On Tuesday evening, interviews that Sarandos had recently given were all published, allowing him to pick up the pieces that have been scattered all over since the release of The Closer.
“First, right upfront, I screwed up the internal communication — and I don’t mean just mechanically,” he told Deadline. “I feel I should’ve made sure to recognize that a group of our employees was hurting very badly from the decision made, and I should’ve recognized upfront before going into a rationalization of anything the pain they were going through.”
Sarandos then shared he respects his staff members deeply, and loves the contributions they all bring to Netflix, however, he told The Hollywood Reporter that he still has no plans to remove the comedy special from the app‘s content library.
Elsewhere, Joe Rogan has spoken out in defence of Chappelle on his podcast, saying, “It’s just making jokes. That doesn’t mean hate. This is the problem with today: if you don’t have an enemy, you make an enemy. And this is a real problem with people. We look for things.”
If you haven‘t watched The Closer yet, do you still have plans to? Or has all the drama turned you off of the idea? Let us know below.