Netflix's Ted Sarandos Reaffirms His Support for Chappelle Special as Trans Staffers, Allies, and Plan Walkout
According to a current employee who spoke to The Hollywood Reporter, at least one thousand Netflix employees are expected to participate in statewide walkout to protest Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos' recent comments in support of Dave Chappelles new documentary, The Closer.
After Sarandos sent two memos to staff one on Oct. 8 and another to all Netflix staffers on Monday stating that the firm would not be removing the special in which Chappelle mocks gender identities and defends J.K. Rowlings transphobic remarks, among other things, trans staff and allies at Netflix are planning to stage the virtual walkout next Wednesday, Oct 20.
According to a copy reviewed by THR, Sarandos claimed in the second memo, sent on Monday, that content on screen does not directly cause harm in real life.
Sarandos stated in the letter, which was first published by Variety, that the strongest evidence to support this is that violence on screens has increased dramatically over the last thirty years, especially with first party shooter games, yet violent crime has fallen dramatically in many countries. Adults may watch violence, assault, and abuse or enjoy shocking stand-up comedy without worrying about harming others.
The current Netflix staffer stated that Sarandos memos were largely the motivation behind the walkout, which was organized by the Trans* employee resource group at the streamer but which received support from several of the company's allies. According to the staffer, participating staffers will not do any work for the streamer during the walkout and will instead focus on giving to charities and encouraging others to engage in content that supports the trans community.
The memo was very disrespectful, the staffer, who requested anonymity to talk openly about the subject, said. It didnt foster a lively discussion on this difficult issue, and thats how things normally go.
A Netflix spokesman said the business supported artistic expression for creators while also urging employees to disagree openly. A statement sent to THR earlier on Wednesday stated that the company supported artists expression while additionally allowing people to vent.
Dave Chappelle's specials are consistently the most-watched comedy special on Netflix, and have won numerous awards, including an Emmy and a Grammy for Sticks and Stones, the spokesperson added. We encourage our employees to be open about their disagreements.
Netflix declined to disclose viewership data for The Closer.
Three Netflix employees were suspended earlier this week after attending an executive meeting to speak out against Chappelles special. The trio, which included a Netflix engineer who is trans, were later reinstated after racial outrage over Netflixs response.
The LGBTQ+ advocacy group GLAAD released a statement Wednesday evening in response to the Sarandos memo and in particular his real-world harm comment. GLAAD was founded 36 years ago because media exposure has consequences for LGBTQ people, she added. According to one study, Authentic media stories about LGBTQ lives have been cited as directly responsible for boosting public support for issues like marriage equality.
For decades, film and television have been riddled with stereotypes and misinformation about us, causing real harm, particularly to trans people and LGBTQ people of color, according to the statement. Ironically, the documentary Disclosure on Netflix demonstrates this very well.
Oct. 13, 6:00 p.m. Updated with comments from a Netflix employee and Ted Sarandos second memo to staff.
Oct. 13, 11:50 p.m. Updated with a statement from GLAAD.