Netflix CEO admits he ‘broke’ response to Dave Chappelle controversy, but employees still engage in walkout

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Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos revealed Variety on October 19, he regrets his final comments on the fallout from Dave Chapelle’s latest comedy special, “The Closer,” which has been criticized for being transphobic. He said at the exit:

“Obviously, I messed up this internal communication. I did it, and I messed it up in two ways. First and foremost, I should have been leading with a lot more humanity. It means that I t had a group of employees who were definitely feeling pain and hurt from a decision we made. […] We landed with much more general and factual things that are not at all accurate. Of course, storytelling has a real impact in the real world. I repeat this because that’s why I work here, that’s why we do what we do. This impact can be extremely positive, and it can be very negative. […] We try to support creative freedom and artistic expression among the artists who work at Netflix. Sometimes, and we make sure our people get it, because of that … there will be things on Netflix that you don’t like. Which you even find harmful. Where we’re definitely going to draw the line is on something that would intentionally call for physically injuring other people or even removing protections. “

In a company-wide email dated October 11, Sarandos first contacted Netflix employees and made some hugely controversial statements in response to the backlash. “With ‘The Closer’ we understand that the concern is not about content that is offensive to some, but about titles that could increase the damage in the real world (such as the further marginalization of already marginalized groups, hatred, violence, etc. .) “, he wrote at the time. “While some employees disagree, we strongly believe that on-screen content does not translate directly into harm in the real world.”

Throughout the special, Chappelle mocks his reputation by jokingly calling himself a transphobic, going so far as to defend “Harry Potter” author JK Rowling, who has also been accused of transphobic behavior and beliefs. Additionally, he shares the story of a transgender comedian who allegedly committed suicide after being harassed online after defending the “Half Baked” star. At the end of her act, Chappelle pleaded with the LGBTQ + community to stop “hitting” comedians. Unsurprisingly, the special was immediately rejected by many due to its callous and offensive content.

How big was the scandal

On October 16, a black trans employee was fired from the company for allegedly sharing “confidential and commercially sensitive information” publicly. The leaked report claimed that Netflix spent $ 24.1 million on “The Closer,” which is what “Squid Game” – AKA the company’s biggest hit to date – cost the streamer for a production. more complex.

Trans Netflix employees and their allies then planned a walkout in protest and took action on October 20 in Hollywood near the streaming giant’s offices. Their specific demands were initially unclear, but organizers read a list that will then be presented to Sarandos, according to Deadline. These requests include:

  • Eliminate Chappelle references / images inside the workplace including, but not limited to murals, posters, room names, loot

  • Recognition that the special is causing damage to the trans community and Netflix’s accountability to them, so we continue to evolve the conversation about transphobia internally.

  • Investing in trans and non-binary content

  • Investment in trans or non-binary content on Netflix comparable to our total investment in transphobic content, including a comparable investment in promoting the content

  • The comparable category of investments should include, but not be limited to, works produced by Dave Chappelle (such as the investment in “The Closer” and “Sticks and Stones”), “After Life” by Ricky Gervais, etc.

  • Investment in multiple trans creators to create scripted and unscripted programs in all genres

  • Review internal processes on the provisioning and / or dissemination of potentially harmful content, involving many and diverse parties who may speak out about its damage, including consultation on third party providers

  • Review the role of the ERG in conversations about potentially harmful content and develop materials to ensure we have best-in-class regional support on complex diversity issues

  • Hire transgender content managers in leadership positions and promote an inclusive environment for them

  • Recruit trans people for management positions in the company (director, vice-president, etc.) and promote an inclusive environment for them

  • The ability for Trans * employees and allies to opt out of the company’s promotional content (e.g. videos of allies, etc.)

  • A warning before “The Closer” specifically saying it contains transphobic language, misogyny, homophobia and hate speech

  • Boost the promotion of “Disclosure” and other cross-claiming titles on the platform


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