Netflix has been in the midst of a PR nightmare following Dave Chappelle’s latest special The Closer, which is being slammed by trans people and social justice activists for the anti-trans jokes made by the comedian. The latest to speak up against the material is Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby, who has not taken well to being addressed in Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos’ company-wide staff memo defending Chappelle’s special.
In a memo that was sent out on 11 October and published two days later, the Netflix head continued to stand by the streaming service’s decision to not remove the special from their catalogue. He says, “Adults can watch violence, assault and abuse—or enjoy shocking stand-up comedy—without it causing them to harm others.” He then went on to list all the other LGBTQ+ titles available on Netflix to reflect the diversity in their stance. “We are working hard to ensure marginalized communities aren’t defined by a single story. So we have ‘Sex Education,’ ‘Orange is the New Black,’ ‘Control Z,’ Hannah Gadsby and Dave Chappelle all on Netflix. Key to this is increasing diversity on the content team itself.”
Gadsby, whose first Netflix special Nanette has been lauded for shedding light on the tension marginalised communities face on the daily, is the biggest name from the Netflix roster to criticise the platform. The comedian called out Sarandos in an Instagram post on 15 October, calling the streaming platform an “amoral algorithm cult”.
“Hey Ted Sarandos! Just a quick note to let you know that I would prefer if you didn’t drag my name into your mess,” Gadsby wrote. “Now I have to deal with even more of the hate and anger that Dave Chappelle’s fans like to unleash on me every time Dave gets 20 million dollars to process his emotionally stunted partial word view. You didn’t pay me nearly enough to deal with the real world consequences of the hate speech dog whistling you refuse to acknowledge, Ted. F**k you and your amoral algorithm cult… I do sh*ts with more back bone than you. That’s just a joke! I definitely didn’t cross a line because there isn’t one.”
Several other writers and performers have voiced their grievances with the streaming service for releasing the controversial special. Jaclyn Moore, an openly trans showrunner on Netflix’s Dear White People, tweeted that she would cut ties with the company “as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.”
A number of Netflix employees have also planned a walkout on 20 October to protest The Closer. The organiser of this protest was fired by the streaming service last week for leaking confidential financial reports highlighting the production costs of various shows and specials.