Netflix is acknowledging what it says is the “deep hurt” the company caused in its response to comedian Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special.
In a statement to ITK, a spokesperson for the streaming service said, “We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that’s been caused.”
“We respect the decision of any employee who chooses to walk out, and recognize we have much more work to do both within Netflix and in our content,” the spokesperson added.
The statement comes as employees of the streaming giant were planning a walk out to voice their displeasure with Chappelle’s latest comedy special, “The Closer.”
In his special, Chappelle declared, “Gender is a fact.”
“Every human being in this room, every human being on earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on earth. That is a fact,” he added.
At a separate point, he defended author J.K Rowling who has faced controversy after she said she is a “trans-exclusionary radical feminist” or “TERF.”
As The Hill notes, Chappelle went on to make transphobic comments including “crude terms to compare a transgender person’s anatomy to a Beyond Burger or Impossible Burger.
The New York Times reports the show sparked internal backlash, with employees warning it could lead to violence against transgender people.
In an internal message board, Reed Hastings, a co-chief executive, said the company “will always continue to reflect on the tensions between freedom and safety.”
“I do believe that our commitment to artistic expression and pleasing our members is the right long term choice for Netflix, and that we are on the right side, but only time will tell,” he added.
Hastings also noted that comedians “say lots of outrageous things for effect. Some people like the art form, or at least particular comedians, and others do not.”
Additionally, he said, “We do not see Dave Chappelle as harmful, or in need of any offset, which we obviously and respectfully disagree on.”
Ted Sarandos, the company’s other co-chief executive, said, “We have a strong belief that content onscreen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”
“The strongest evidence to support this is that violence on screens has grown hugely over the last 30 years, especially with first-party shooter games, and yet violent crime has fallen significantly in many countries,” he added. “Adults can watch violence, assault, and abuse — or enjoy shocking stand-up comedy — without it causing them to harm others.”
However, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, Sarandos said he “screwed up” in his response and, “What I should have led with in those emails was humanity.”
“I should have recognized the fact that a group of our employees was really hurting,” he added.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.