Netflix comedian Dave Chappelle looks on during UFC 264: Poirier v McGregor 3 at T-Mobile Arena on July 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Netflix comedian Dave Chappelle looks on during UFC 264: Poirier v McGregor 3 at T-Mobile Arena on July 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Photo by Stacy Revere via Getty Images.

Netflix Defends Dave Chappelle's Controversial 'The Closer,' Suspends Protesting Employees

Ted Sarandos, CEO of Netflix, issued a statement on The Closer and the company's commitment to both "artistic freedom" and protecting its employees.

Netflix isn't buckling to the criticism surrounding Dave Chappelle's new special, The Closer.

On Friday, the company's CEO, Ted Sarandos, issued an internal memo, offering managers guidance on how to handle employees and talent speaking out against the comedian and his latest set for the streamer, which has been accused of being homophobic and transphobic by critics and some of its own staff members. "It never feels good when people are hurting, especially our colleagues, so I wanted to give you some additional context. You should also be aware that some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do," Sarandos writes in the memo before likening the response to the backlash Netflix received for shows and docs like, Cuties, 13 Reasons Why, and My Unorthodox Life.

"We don’t allow titles Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line. I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean-spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering," Sarandos adds. The Netlfix chief goes on to reinforce the company's commitment to inclusive programming and lists off a number of titles he considers emblematic of that commitment.

It should be noted, Sarandos' memo to the company was sent out just after a virtual meeting with VPs, shareholders, and directors at Netflix, which was reportedly crashed by three members of the company's staff in protest of the special. One of those employees, Terra Field, was an outspoken critic of the special on Twitter. Field, who identifies as trans and queer, and the other two employees, were all suspended for attending without informing the meeting organizer. A Netflix rep claimed the company's action against its employees was due to their attendance at the meeting and not for being critical of Netflix and Chappelle's special. "It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employees for tweeting about this show. Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so."