Closer, The: Netflix Suspends Trans Employee Who Spoke Out Against Chappelle Special

Netflix Suspends Trans Employee Who Spoke Out Against Chappelle Special Over Attending Meeting Without Permission

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos also defended Chappelle, saying it would not remove his controversial special.

Ted Sarandos

A source said that the employees, including engineer Terra Field, whose Twitter thread about the special went viral, were suspended for attempting to join a quarterly meeting meant only for directors or vice presidents, and not because of Field’s tweets.

“It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employees for tweeting about this show,” a Netflix spokesperson said. “Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so.”

 

Dave Chappelle

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos also defended the comedian in a memo, which was sent out on Friday and confirmed by The Hollywood Reporter. In the memo, Sarandos warned senior staff 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.”

“Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long standing deal with him.

Content: Controversial and/or Harmful

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, like Cuties365 Days13 Reasons Why or My Unorthodox Life,” Sarandos wrote.

“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,” he added. “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.”

In the special, The Closer, Chappelle mocked the concept of gender identity, and identified himself as “team TERF,” a reference to trans-exclusionary radical feminists. In addition to GLAAD and the NBJC, others, including Fields and Dear White People showrunner Jaclyn Moore spoke out against the special and Netflix for hosting it.

Chappelle hosted an event, after the Netflix special was released, to screen his new, untitled documentary.

Cancel Culture

After the film, which drew a standing ovation, Chappelle took to the stage and said “If this is what being canceled is like, I love it.”

“Fuck Twitter. Fuck NBC News, ABC News, all these stupid ass networks,” he added. “I’m not talking to them. I’m talking to you. This is real life.”

A spokesperson for Netflix declined to comment on Sarandos memo, which can be read in full below.

I wanted to follow up on The Closer – Dave Chappelle’s latest special – as several of you have reached out following QBR asking what to say to your teams. 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.

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. 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, like Cuties, 365 Days, 13 Reasons Why, or My Unorthodox Life.

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. 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.

In terms of our commitment to inclusion, we’re working hard to ensure more people see their lives reflected on screen and that under-represented communities are not defined by the single story. So we’re proud of titles like Sex Education, Young Royals, Control Z and Disclosure. Externally, 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.

Today’s conversation on Entertain the World was timely. These are hard and uncomfortable issues. We all bring different values and perspectives so thank you for being part of the conversation as it’s important we’re clear about our operating principles.