Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos is once again standing firmly behind Dave Chappelle amid outrage over the comedian’s transphobic comments in his latest stand-up special, The Closer. In an email sent to the company’s staff on Monday, obtained by Variety, Sarandos defended Chappelle’s words. “While some employees disagree,” the executive wrote, “we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.” Sarandos said that inversely proportional rates of violent media and violent crime in real life proved that. Viewers, he insisted, “can watch violence, assault, and abuse—or enjoy shocking stand-up comedy—without it causing them to harm others.”
Transphobic rhetoric, such as Chappelle referring to himself as “team TERF,” has been proved to help normalize anti-trans sentiment, which can lead to violence. But in a Friday memo to top leadership, Sarandos reached out to employees not to acknowledge harm or apologize, but to “give you some additional context.” Sarandos said he didn’t believe The Closer crossed the line on content designed to incite hate or violence and said the platform would not be pulling the title. Trans employees and allies at the company have, in response, scheduled a walkout protest next week.