Comedian Hannah Gadsby just absolutely destroyed Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos for defending Dave Chappelle’s new stand-up special, “The Closer,” despite its jokes about the transgender community.
“Hey Ted Sarandos! Just a quick note to let you know that I would prefer if you didn’t drag my name into your mess. Now I have to deal with even more of the hate and anger that Dave Chappelle’s fans like to unleash on me every time Dave gets 20 million dollars to process his emotionally stunted partial word view,” Gadsby, who is trans, posted to her Instagram. “You didn’t pay me nearly enough to deal with the real world consequences of the hate speech dog whistling you refuse to acknowledge, Ted. F— you and your amoral algorithm cult…. I do s—s with more back bone than you. That’s just a joke! I definitely didn’t cross a line because you just told the world there isn’t one.”
Gadsby captioned her post: “Yes I watched the whole thing. Leave me alone,” adding the hashtags “#transisbeautiful #comedyisdead #ikilledit.”
Gadsby is not alone in her criticism of Sarandos. The LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD on Wednesday publicly rebuked the Netflix boss over a memo he sent to staffers in which he defended the company’s decision to continue streaming Chappelle’s special despite uproar over its transphobic commentary. In the leaked memo, Sarandos claimed that “content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”
“GLAAD was founded 36 years ago because media representation has consequences for LGBTQ people. Authentic media stories about LGBTQ lives have been cited as directly responsible for increasing public support for issues like marriage equality,” GLAAD said in a statement. “But film and TV have also been filled with stereotypes and misinformation about us for decades, leading to real world harm, especially for trans people and LGBTQ people of color.”
In Sarandos’ memo, first published by Variety, he amplified remarks he’d already made in defense of the comedy special. He first noted that Netflix serves “a diversity of tastes” as it entertains “the world,” and reiterated previous statements defending “artistic freedom to help attract the best creators and push back on government and other censorship requests.”
Sarandos acknowledged that criticism about “The Closer” “is not about offensive-to-some content but titles which could increase real-world harm (such as further marginalizing already marginalized groups, hate, violence etc.),” but said, “we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”
To back that statement, Sarandos cited the popularity of violent video games despite the historic plummeting of real-world violence. “Adults can watch violence, assault and abuse – or enjoy shocking stand-up comedy – without it causing them to harm others,” Sarandos said in the memo. “We are working hard to ensure marginalized communities aren’t defined by a single story. So we have Sex Education, Orange is the New Black, Control Z, Hannah Gadsby and Dave Chappelle all on Netflix. Key to this is increasing diversity on the content team itself.”
The backlash against “The Closer” has even come from Netflix employees; an undetermined number of trans employees and allies will be staging a walkout in protest on Oct. 20.
Gadsby has two stand-up comedy specials on Netflix: “Nanette” from 2018 and 2020’s “Douglas.”
See Gadsby’s Instagram post below.