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‘Artistic freedom’: Netflix defends Dave Chappelle comedy special with trans jokes

The company also suspended Tyra Field, a company employee, a transgender worker who spoke out against Chappelle’s special.

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(Bloomberg) — The co-CEO of Netflix Inc. , Ted Sarandos, on the company’s decision to air a controversial comedy special by Dave Chappelle that features fleeting jokes as “artistic freedom.”


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We don’t allow titles [on] Netflix is ​​designed to incite hatred or violence, and we don’t think “The Closer” crosses that line,” he wrote in a note last week obtained by Variety Monday. “Especially in stand-up comedy, artistic freedom is clearly a different discourse standard. Exactly what we allow internally because the goals are different: entertaining people versus maintaining a respectable and productive workplace.”

The company on Monday also suspended three employees who dissolved an executive meeting last week, including Tyra Field, a transgender worker who has spoken out against Chappelle’s special, according to a person familiar with the matter.

“What we object to is the harm that content like this does to the transgender community (especially people of color) and in particular black trans women,” Field books In a viral series of tweets last week. A Netflix spokesperson told Bloomberg News that no employees have been suspended for their tweets and that the company encourages open disagreement. The domain did not respond to a request for comment.


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During his routine, Chappelle joked about transgender genitals, said “gender is real” and told his audience that he’s a member of “Team TERF,” an acronym for Radical Trans-Exclusion Feminism. He also defended J.K. Rowling, the author of the “Harry Potter” books, who has been criticized for making anti-transgender statements. Chappelle was criticized for pranking the transgender community on Sarandos’ previous special, “Sticks and Stones.”

The memo came on the heels of a conviction from Jacqueline Moore, a transgender writer who worked on the Netflix original film “Dear White People.”

Last week, Moore wrote on Twitter that Chappelle used to be one of her “heroes.” “But he said it was TERF,” Moore wrote. “He compared my existence to someone doing the blackface job.”


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Moore said she “was done” with Netflix.

Responding to concerns that the field suspension was in retaliation for his criticism of the special, a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement: “It is absolutely incorrect to say that we have suspended any employee for tweeting about this show. We encourage our employees not to publicly approve and support their right to do so.”

The National Black Justice Alliance, a civil rights group dedicated to empowering the Black LGBTQ community, has asked Netflix to remove the special from the platform.

Sarandos said in the memo that Netflix has no plans to do so. Sarandos wrote that the comedian’s shows are among his most well-known. His latest ‘Sticks and Stones’ movie, also controversial, is the most-watched, the most consistent, and the most special award-winning to date.

Chappelle reportedly made $60 million for a three-special deal, according to Business Insider. “The Closer” is his sixth with the live broadcast network.


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With additional reporting from the Washington Post



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