Netflix is standing by its decision to keep Dave Chappelle’s special, The Closer, on its platform even as a number of employees are planning to stage a walkout to protest Ted Sarandos’ recent comments in support of the special.
In a statement sent to The Hollywood Reporter, a Netflix spokesperson said the company supported “artistic expression” for creators while also encouraging “employees to disagree openly.”
“Dave Chappelle’s specials are consistently the most-watched comedy specials on Netflix, and have earned many awards, including both an Emmy and a Grammy for Sticks and Stones,” the spokesperson said. “We support artistic expression for our creators. We also encourage our employees to disagree openly.”
Netflix declined to share viewership data for The Closer.
As first reported by The Verge, trans staffers at Netflix are planning to stage the walkout next Wednesday, Oct. 20, after Sarandos sent a memo to staff Oct. 8 stating that the company would not be removing the special, in which Chappelle mocks gender identities and defends J.K. Rowling’s transphobic remarks, among other comments.
“Trans Lives Matter. Trans Rights Matter. And as an organization, Netflix has continually failed to show deep care in our mission to Entertain the World by repeatedly releasing content that harms the Trans community and continually failing to create content that represents and uplifts Trans content. We can and must do better!” a leader of Netflix’s trans employee resource group wrote in an internal message, according to The Verge.
Earlier this week, three Netflix staffers were suspended for attending an executive meeting to speak out against Chappelle’s special. The trio, which included a Netflix engineer who is trans, were later reinstated after public backlash to Netflix’s response.