Culture Oct 20, 2021 9:54 AM EST

Netflix CEO caves to woke mob, says he 'screwed up' in handling backlash against Dave Chappelle's special

"What I should have led with in those emails was humanity. I should have recognized the fact that a group of our employees was really hurting," Sarandos said

Netflix CEO caves to woke mob, says he 'screwed up' in handling backlash against Dave Chappelle's special
Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY

After coming to the defense of Dave Chappelle, free speech, and artistic integrity, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos has capitulated to the woke mob. "I should have recognized the fact that a group of our employees was really hurting," Sarandos said.

Sarandos said that he "screwed up" in his handling of the internal backlash against the hit special. He had previously defended the special, and Chappelle. On Wednesday, Netflix employees are reportedly staging a walkout due to their displeasure with the special.

"What I should have led with in those emails was humanity. I should have recognized the fact that a group of our employees was really hurting," Sarandos said in a Tuesday interview, according to the Wall Street Journal.

He walked back comments he had made that said content was not responsible for harm in the real world, saying "To be clear, storytelling has an impact in the real world... sometimes quite negative."

Those employees who are staging the walkout stated as their demands: "We want the company to adopt measures in the areas of content investment, employee relations and safety, and harm reduction, all of which are necessary to avoid future instances of platforming transphobia and hate speech," according to The Verge.

They also wanted more hiring of trans and non-binary people to executive positions, and want the company to add disclaimers to content "that specifically flag transphobic language, misogyny, homophobia, hate speech, etc. as required," according to NPR.

Sarandos also touted Netflix's record of providing an extensive amount of content for LGBTQ+ viewers, and he said that he was "firmly committed to continue to support artistic freedom for the creators who work with Netflix and increase representation behind the screen and on camera." These goals can sometimes be in conflict, he added, noting that "We have to figure out how to navigate those challenges."

Netflix won't remove the special, and Sarandos said he doesn't regret carrying "The Closer" or Chappelle. Sarandos said that Netflix employees are aware that there will be things on the platform that they "don't like."

"We have articulated to our employees that there are going to be things you don’t like. There are going to be things that you might feel are harmful. But we are trying to entertain a world with varying tastes and varying sensibilities and various beliefs, and I think this special was consistent with that," Sarandos said.

Sarandos had said in a memo obtained by Variety that "Chapelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long-standing deal with him. His last special, "Sticks & Stones," also controversial, is our most-watched, stickiest and most award winning stand-up special to date."

This comes as Netflix employees are gearing up to walk off the job on Wednesday in protest of Chappelle's latest comedy special "The Closer.

A back-and-forth has raged on for weeks. First, Netflix employees tried to force their way into a meeting in order to air their grievances about the special, in which Chappelle made jokes that the transgender community didn't like. Those employees were released, then rehired. Netflix said their initial termination had nothing to do with their views, but that they had tried to attend a meeting to which they were not privy.

Offended Netflix employees then planned a walkout from the streaming giant, and the leader of that walkout, B. Pagels-Minor, was fired. That employee said that "All these white people are going around talking to the press and speaking publicly on Twitter and the only person who gets fired is the Black person who was quiet the entire time. That’s absurd, and just further shows that Black trans people are the ones being targeted in this conversation." Netflix said that this person was fired for leaking metrics on the special to the press.

Plans for the walkout were made known last week. "Trans Lives Matter. Trans Rights Matter. And as an organization, Netflix has continually failed to show deep care in our mission to Entertain the World by repeatedly releasing content that harms the Trans community and continually failing to create content that represents and uplifts Trans content. We can and must do better!" a leader of the movement reportedly said.

Chappelle was lauded by comics like Damon Wayans, who said that he "freed the slaves" of comedy, and fans have praised the special.

Chappelle was accused by NPR of using "white privilege," though the comedian is black, and Chappelle embraced "being cancelled" over these "transphobic" remarks. Those remarks include the statement that "gender is a fact," and that men cannot become women simply because that is their wish.

"The fact is," Chappelle said, "every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on earth... Now I am not saying that to say that trans women aren't women, I'm just saying that those p*ssies that they got, y'know what I mean? I'm not saying that's not p*ssy, but that's like 'Beyond P*ssy,' that's 'Impossible P*ssy," he said.

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