Netflix Head Honcho Ted Sarandos Addresses Backlash Against Dave Chappelle Stand-Up Special

Dave Chappelle for The Closer
(Image credit: Netflix)

It would seem that Netflix is once again under fire following the release of one of their original productions. Dave Chappelle's latest stand-up special, The Closer, is the root of this current slew of backlash. In the special, the polarizing comedian makes jokes that many have viewed as offensive to the trans and LGBTQ+ communities. Now, the head of the streamer, Ted Sarandos, has addressed this situation in an official statement. 

Netflix's Ted Sarandos seems to stand by Dave Chappelle and his latest comedy set. According to Variety, Sarandos sent out a staff memo that defended the comedian, citing that the company works hard to support the "creative freedom" of its talent. Along with the memo, Sarandos also held a two-day gathering for managers, during which he informed them of how to handle internal backlash coming from upset employees and angered Netflix talent. This meeting was reportedly crashed by three junior staffers who have since been suspended, with an investigation pending.

In his statement, the CEO confirmed that the special would not be removed from the streaming service. The boss also stated that stand-up comedy is held to a different standard in terms of artistic expression for entertainment value. Ultimately, he does not believe Chappelle broke Netflix’s terms in regards to their rule of not carrying any titles that incite hate or violence. Here it is in his own words:

We don't believe The Closer crosses that (hate speech) line. 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.

This isn't the first time Dave Chappelle's comedy has generated controversy, though his humor has also generated praise. He's won awards and has been honored for his work in comedy, with many having made note of his strong, blunt, and even sometimes crude voice in the face of controversy. He has never been one to shy away from making his opinion known and has gotten political on more than just one occasion. In his new special, he shares his views on cancel culture and the trans community, saying trans people have “thin skin.” The LGBTQ+ community has since voiced displeasure with the comedian's views and the special's presence on Netflix, which has a substantial streaming deal with Chappelle.

As mentioned, this is not the first time people have had an issue with Netflix’s original content. A recent example would be the controversial movie Cuties, which many critics and general audience members felt exploited children and portrayed them in a sexually compromising light. When it comes to the stand-up genre, though, it should be pointed out that Netflix has content from a number of other strongly opinionated comedians, all of whom have different ranges of views and jokes that reflect those opinions.

As of right now, it would seem that The Closer will indeed remain on the streaming service for the foreseeable future. Netflix has yet to give any further details on the matter, but CinemaBlend will be sure to keep you posted as more information becomes available.

Carlie Hoke
Content Writer

Constantly thinking about books, coffee, and the existential dread I feel from Bo Burnham’s Inside.  While writing I’m also raising a chaotic toddler, who may or may not have picked up personality traits from watching one too many episodes of Trailer Park Boys.