Netflix Inc. Co-Chief Executive Ted Sarandos said he “screwed up” in his efforts to communicate with employees who were upset over “The Closer,” a recent comedy special by Dave Chappelle in which he made remarks that some viewed as offensive to the transgender community.
In emails to Netflix /zigman2/quotes/202353025/composite NFLX +1.12% staff after the special’s debut earlier this month, Sarandos defended “The Closer,” citing its popularity on the platform and the company’s commitment to creative freedom. He also said the company believed “content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”
In “The Closer,” which was released earlier this month and is currently among the most-watched programs on the service in the U.S., Chappelle said “gender is a fact” and said he identified as a “TERF,” an acronym that stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.” He also compared the transgender community to people who wear blackface.
“What I should have led with in those emails was humanity,” Sarandos said in an interview Tuesday evening. “I should have recognized the fact that a group of our employees was really hurting.”
Sarandos said his remarks on content not causing real-world harm was also an oversimplification and lacking in humanity. “To be clear, storytelling has an impact in the real world…sometimes quite negative,” he said.
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