Sarandos has been widely criticised online for claiming that on-screen content doesn’t cause real-world harm amid his continued defence of the comedian.
Released earlier this month, Chappelle’s latest special was met with criticism for mocking trans people. In it, the stand-up comedian says that he is “team TERF” (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) and claims that the LGBTQ+ community is trying to destroy the lives of celebrities, such as JK Rowling, by “cancelling” them.
Sarandos originally defended the comic in a memo sent to staff last week, saying that artistic freedom allowed for “a very different standard of speech” than was allowed internally at the company.
Last week, Variety reported that another email was sent to the company on Monday (11 October), comparing the backlash to The Closer to Netflix’s controversial film 365 Days, in that neither would allegedly have a real-world impact.
“With The Closer, we understand that the concern is not about offensive-to-some content but titles which could increase real world harm (such as further marginalising already marginalised groups, hate, violence etc),” Sarandos wrote.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Sarandos acknowledged that he didn’t handle the situation humanely during an interview on Tuesday (19 October).
“What I should have led with in those emails was humanity,” he said. “I should have recognised the fact that a group of our employees was really hurting.”
Although, despite his regret with how he handled the criticism, Sarandos doesn’t regret keeping The Closer on Netflix.
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“We have articulated to our employees that there are going to be things you don’t like,” Sarandos said, according to WSJ “There are going to be things that you might feel are harmful. But we are trying to entertain a world with varying tastes and varying sensibilities and various beliefs, and I think this special was consistent with that.”
The CEO also spoke about how Netflix has spent loads of funds to create content for the LGBTQ+ community, and will continue to do so.
“I’m firmly committed to continue to support artistic freedom for the creators who work with Netflix and increase representation behind the screen and on camera,” Sarandos said.
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