Netflix defends Dave Chappelle following backlash from his special The Closer
Comedian Dave Chappelle has been drawing much criticism from a few different entities following his most recent comedy special, The Closer. Netflix, who premiered and is housing his comedy special, have made their point very clear that they are standing by Chappelle despite the backlash that has stirred as a result.
If you haven’t seen the special, Chappelle caused much anger stemming from his jokes during the special that touched on topics such as LGBTQ+ communities and the effects of “cancel culture.” After the special aired, many called to have the special pulled including some that worked for the streamer, this included Dear White People co-showrunner Jaclyn Moore, saying that she would boycott the platform due to the jokes.
Netflix does not seem to be phased by the backlash and according to a report from “Variety“, fired three employees, including a trans person, for crashing an executives’ meeting because of the special. Even though this has not been comfortable for company brass, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos expressed in a memo obtained by “Variety” that they will be standing by Dave Chappelle in the wake of the backlash specifically because of his artistic freedom as a comedian. Here is what the memo had to say:
“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. Chappelle 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 on 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.”
Sarandos and Netflix are in a particularly tough position because the rallying cry to remove the special is strong but what’s also strong are supporters of Dave Chappelle who feel that not only is he an incredibly funny comedian, but he’s also very smart and touching on topical issues that speak to facts. Sarandos does say that the company remains committed to reflecting “under-represented communities” on screen and that can be seen in popular projects that have proven to be successful for the streamer like Young Royals, Control Z, and Sex Education. He also made a distinction that what’s in the special wouldn’t be tolerated internally at the workplace but he goes on to say, “[It’s] entertaining people versus maintaining a respectful, productive workplace.”
What are your thoughts on the controversy? Let us know in the comments.