Netflix’s Dave Chappelle Controversy: Ted Sarandos Mounts New Defense Amid Fan Uproar & Potential Staff Walkout

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The controversy over Netflix’s Dave Chappelle special The Closer continued today with allegations that employees had raised concerns about the doc before it debuted, reports of a planned walkout next week by and in support of the company’s trans employees and a leaked memo from company co-CEO Ted Sarandos maintaining that violent or abusive content does not spur viewers to harm others.

A report from Bloomberg said that Netflix staffers raised flags about The Closer in the days before it was released, specifically “that a series of jokes about gender-neutral pronouns and the genitalia of transgender people was potentially inflammatory and damaging.”

Sarandos apparently addressed those and other concerns in a memo sent to employees on Monday. According to Variety, the co-CEO wrote about “trade-offs” and “the principles that guide our team’s content choices,” before focusing on “titles which could increase real world harm.” Sarandos wrote that, “we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.” As proof, he cited the data showing that “violence on screens has grown hugely over the last thirty years, especially with first party shooter games, and yet violent crime has fallen significantly in many countries.”

Deadline reached out to Netflix for comment on both the alleged memo and report about staff concerns, but did not immediately hear back.

On the company’s Twitter feed devoted to LGBTQ+ storytelling, Most, commenters weren’t convinced about the company’s motives.

Replying to a string of tweets from the people who maintain the account — which included “sorry we haven’t been posting, this week f*cking sucks” — commenters said:

“Excuse me why aren’t _YOU_ standing up for “our” community? You do recognize how crappy your company is being, right? Please tell me you recognize”

And:

“…this year I gave myself the gift of unsubscribing from Netflix, because I won’t give my money to companies that fund and platform transphobia (and suspend trans employees for objecting)”

Or more directly:

“Delete this sanctimonious b#llsh*t you f#ck*ng hypocrites”

It seems some Netflix employees are not convinced, either.

Transgender staffers and their co-workers plan to stage a walkout next week protesting the streaming giant’s stance on The Closer, according to the Los Angeles Times. They are urging cohorts “not to work for Netflix that day” in order to “challenge the very principles of our company.”

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