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14 Oct, 16 tweets, 7 min read
Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos is doubling down on his defense of Dave Chappelle following the mounting controversy around his latest comedy special: “We have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”
After addressing top leadership, Sarandos sent a lengthy missive on Monday to the entire company — some of whom have increasingly expressed outrage over jokes about the trans community in “The Closer,” and have scheduled a walkout protest in response.
“We know that a number of you have been left angry, disappointed and hurt by our decision to put Dave Chappelle’s latest special on Netflix,” Sarandos wrote in an email obtained by Variety.
“With ‘The Closer,’ we understand that the concern is not about offensive-to-some content but titles which could increase real world ham (such as further marginalizing already marginalized groups, hate, violence etc.),” the co-CEO wrote.
“Last year, we heard similar concerns about ‘365 Days’ and violence against women,” said Sarandos. “While some employees disagree, we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”
“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,” wrote the co-CEO.
“Adults can watch violence, assault and abuse – or enjoy shocking stand-up comedy – without it causing them to harm others,” he continued.
“Chappelle makes harsh jokes about many different groups, which is his style & a reason his fans love his comedy & commentary,” said Sarandos. “Stand-up comedians often expose issues that are uncomfortable because the art by nature is a highly provocative”
“As a leadership team, we do not believe that The Closer is intended to incite hatred or violence against anyone (per our Sensitive Content guidelines),” he continued.
“Our hope is that you can be hugely inspired by entertaining the world, while also living with titles you strongly believe have no place on Netflix,” the co-CEO wrote to Netflix employees.
“This will not be the last title that causes some of you to wonder if you can still love Netflix,” Sarandos wrote in an email to the entire company. “I sincerely hope that you can.”
That Sarandos would wade into a debate about the potential harmful effects of content is notable, given that those who condemn Chappelle’s jokes have specifically cited the physical danger that anti-trans ideology poses to that community.
“GLAAD was founded 36 years ago because media representation has consequences for LGBTQ people,” GLAAD said in a statement.
“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,” the statement continues.
“Ironically, the documentary Disclosure on Netflix demonstrates this quite clearly,” the organization said in a statement.
Read Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos’ full email to the entire company, in which he doubles down on defending Dave Chappelle following the mounting controversy around his latest special.

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