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Netflix CEO: Dave Chappelle’s Trans Comments Don’t “Translate to Real-World Harm”

Ted Sarandos argues that because Chappelle makes "harsh jokes about many different groups... we do not believe that The Closer is intended to incite hatred or violence against anyone."

Dave Chappelle
Dave Chappelle, photo via Netflix
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    Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos has issued a new internal memo defending the streamer’s decision to stand behind Dave Chappelle amid the growing controversy over his latest special, The Closer.

    Sarandos rejected the notion made by LGBTQ+ advocates that that Chappelle’s derogatory comments about transgender people could inspire hate and violence.

    “While some employees disagree, we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm,” Sarandos wrote.

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    “The strongest evidence to support this is that violence on screens has grown hugely over the last thirty years, especially with first party shooter games, and yet violent crime has fallen significantly in many countries,” Sarandos added. “Adults can watch violence, assault and abuse – or enjoy shocking stand-up comedy – without it causing them to harm others.”

    Sarandos also argued that because Chappelle makes “harsh jokes about many different groups… we do not believe that The Closer is intended to incite hatred or violence against anyone.”

    This is the second statement Sarandos has sent to Netflix employees since The Closer’s release last month. In a memo written earlier this week, the Netflix CEO vowed not to pull the special, citing creative freedom. He also stated that the stand-up special didn’t cross the company’s “line on hate” and delineated the “different standard of speech” that applies to stand-up compared to what is allowed internally.

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    “Chapelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long standing deal with him,” wrote Sarandos at the time. “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.”

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