Netflix CEO won’t cancel Chappelle: Controversial stand-up is ‘artistic freedom’

The Chappelle controversy continues.

In a memo apparently sent to Netflix employees, Ted Sarandos, the company’s co-CEO and chief content officer, said that the streaming service will not take down comedian Dave Chappelle’s controversial new stand-up special “The Closer,” Variety reported.

Many critics have slammed the 48-year-old’s latest special and urged viewers to cancel him for his controversial remarks about transgender people.

“Chappelle 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,” Sarandos wrote.

“As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom — even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful,” the CEO continued.

Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos addressed Dave Chappelle's controversial stand-up special.
Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos addressed Dave Chappelle’s controversial stand-up special.Netflix; WireImage

He went on: “Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate. We don’t allow titles [on] Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe ‘The Closer’ crosses that line.”

Dave Chappelle in his latest Netflix comedy special, “The Closer.”
Mathieu Bitton/Netflix

“Particularly in stand-up comedy, artistic freedom is obviously a very different standard of speech than we allow internally as the goals are different: entertaining people versus maintaining a respectful, productive workplace,” he added.

Meanwhile, “Queer Eye” star Jonathan Van Ness — whose show also streams on Netflix — seemingly weighed in on the memo.

“News flash, straight men don’t get to decide what crosses the line on transphobic speech,” he wrote in a Twitter post late Monday afternoon. “… really gross look #netflix.”

The memo’s emergence comes the same day it was reported that Netflix senior software engineer Terra Field was allegedly suspended for blasting the Chappelle special last week. In a viral Twitter thread, Field said Chappelle “attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness.”

According to the Verge, Field was reportedly suspended “for trying to attend a meeting she wasn’t invited to.” The site also claimed that another trans employee was quitting the company over “how the special — and Field’s comments — were handled.”

“Gender is a fact,” Chappelle said at one point in his set. “Every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth.” He then joked about the genitalia of transgender women, which he said is “not what it is.”