Netflix’s Ted Sarandos defends Dave Chappelle after comedian says he’s ‘team TERF’

Sarandos sent a memo to Netflix staff outlining his view

Sam Moore
Monday 11 October 2021 20:24 BST
Dave Chappelle Standup Comedy trailer: Sticks & Stones
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Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos has defended comedian Dave Chappelle following a backlash to transphobic remarks in his latest comedy special.

In a memo send to the staff of the streamer, which has been obtained by Variety, Sarandos offered guidance to senior members of management on how they should handle upset employees.

In his latest special for the streaming service, The Closer, Chappelle made a number of anti-LGBTQ+ remarks and railed against “cancel culture”. He also called himself “team TERF” which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist.

In the memo, Sarandos cited Chappelle’s success for the company: “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.”

He added: “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.”

Sarandos also insisted that there is a difference between workplace behaviour and art: “Particularly in stand-up comedy, artistic freedom is obviously a very different standard of speech than we allow internally as the goals are different: entertaining people versus maintaining a respectful, productive workplace.”

He also said that Netflix will not be removing The Closer from Netflix: “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.”

The statement concluded by saying: “These are hard and uncomfortable issues. We all bring different values and perspectives so thank you for being part of the conversation as it’s important we’re clear about our operating principals.”

Es hora de sentarse: el último especial de stand-up de Dave Chappelle, 'The Closer', ha provocado indignación entre muchos espectadores de Netflix (Mathieu Bitton/Netflix)

As well as being criticised for his anti-trans comments, Chappelle was also slammed for making jokes that appeared to belittle DaBaby’s homophobic remarks at Rolling Loud festival earlier this year.

Chappelle has also previously been criticised for comments relating to victims of sexual assault.

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