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Netflix CEO doubles up on Dave Chappelle’s defense

LOS ANGELES – Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos has sent a lengthy missive to the entire company in the wake of growing controversy over a new original special from comedic Dave Chappelle.

After addressing senior executives in a memo on Friday, Sarandos emailed all staff on Monday, some of whom have increasingly expressed outrage at the jokes about the trans community in “The Closer.” de Chappelle and scheduled a walkout protest in response.

“We know a number of you were angry, disappointed and hurt by our decision to put Dave Chappelle’s latest special on Netflix,” Sarandos wrote in an email obtained by Variety.

“With ‘The Closer’ we understand that the concern is not about content that is offensive to some, but titles that could increase real-world damage (such as further marginalization of already marginalized groups, hatred, violence, etc.) Last year we heard similar concerns about 365 days and violence against women. does not translate directly into actual harm, ”he said.

“The strongest supporting evidence is that screen violence has increased dramatically over the past three decades, especially with first-party shooters, and yet violent crime has declined dramatically in many countries. . Adults can watch violence, assault and abuse – or enjoy shocking stand-up comedy – without it harming others, ”he continued.

Contacted for comment, gay media watchdog GLAAD said it was “founded 36 years ago because media portrayal has consequences for LGBTQ people. Authentic media articles on LGBTQ lives have been reported. been cited as being directly responsible for increasing public support for issues such as marriage equality.

But film and television have also been filled with stereotypes and misinformation about us for decades, leading to real-world prejudice, especially for trans people and LGBTQ people of color. Ironically, the documentary ‘Disclosure ‘on Netflix demonstrates this quite clearly. “

That Sarandos is launching into a debate about the potential harmful effects of content is notable, given that those who condemn Chappelle’s jokes have specifically cited the physical danger that anti-trans ideology poses to this community.

“What we oppose is the harm this content does to the trans community (especially trans people of color) and VERY specifically black trans women. People who look like me are not being killed. a white woman, “Netflix trans employee Terra Field wrote in a now-viral Twitter thread last week.

“Make no mistake, Chappelle’s alleged jokes don’t impact hypothetical people; they actually cause real harm to transgender and non-binary viewers and black LGBTQ youth who may have already considered it. as a role model, ”wrote the author and queer lawyer. Preston Mitchum Wednesday.

Studies, including 2016 research by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association, support Sarandos’ claim specifically about the effects of on-screen violence, but the trans community has long despaired of ‘educate the masses on the shocking death rate it faces. In 2020, the Human Rights Campaign recorded a record number of violent deaths suffered by trans and gender nonconforming people, the highest rate since the group began tracking these killings in 2013.

Dialogs about on-screen violence resulting in real-world damage have been going on for decades. Last week, videos of brawls outside a pop-up store devoted to Netflix’s brutal, record-breaking series “Squid Game” went viral. In July, a Wisconsin judge freed Anissa Weier, the young woman convicted of stabbing her classmate to death as a tribute to digital folklore character Slender Man, the subject of a 2018 feature film.

In his Monday memo, Sarandos went on to say that Netflix is ​​”working hard to ensure that marginalized communities are not defined by one story,” and said the key to this effort is “to increase diversity. within the content team itself “. He also referred to titles such as “Sex Education,” “Orange is the New Black,” “Control Z” and Hannah Gadsby’s stand-up as companions on Chappelle’s special on the service.

“Our hope is that you can be hugely inspired by entertaining the world, while still living with titles that you think have no place on Netflix. This will not be the last title that will lead some of you to wonder if you can still love Netflix. I sincerely hope you can, “he concluded.