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Netflix stands by Dave Chappelle's new special in internal memo to employees, reports say

Dave Chappelle Netflix
Posted at 11:02 AM, Oct 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-12 13:02:13-04

Netflix does not plan to remove Dave Chappelle's new comedy special from its platform amid criticism over several jokes that have been perceived as transphobic, according to an internal memo obtained by The Verge and Variety.

In a memo to employees, Netflix's co-CEO Ted Sarandos told employees that he did not believe that Chappelle's comments on his new special, "The Closer," crossed the line into hate speech, and for that reason, the company had no plans to remove the special from its platform.

"Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate. We don't allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don't believe The Closer crosses that line," Sarandos reportedly wrote. "I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean-spirited but our members enjoy it, and it's an important part of our content offering."

Sarandos noted that this isn't the first time Chappelle has done a controversial special for Netflix. His 2019 special "Sticks & Stones" also included transphobic jokes.

"Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long standing deal with him," Sarandos wrote. "His last special, Sticks & Stones, also controversial, is our most watched, stickiest, and most award winning stand-up special to date."

In "The Closer," Chapelle defends author J.K. Rowling, who has made comments that have been perceived as transphobic.

"Gender is a fact," Chappelle says in the Netflix special.

Chappelle also criticized society for how it reacted to homophobic remarks from rapper DaBaby.

"In our country, you can shoot and kill a (man), but you better not hurt a gay person's feelings," Chappelle said.

Following the special's debut on Netflix, Jacyln Moore, a writer and executive producer of the Netflix series "Dear White People," said she could no longer work for the company.

"I will not work with them as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content," Moore, a trans woman, said.

A second trans employee who has been critical of the special on social media was suspended by Netflix last week, according to The Verge and Variety.

Netflix told those outlets that the suspension was because the employee attended a meeting to which that employee was not invited. The company said in a statement that the suspension was unrelated to criticism of Chappelle's special.