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Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos has defended comedians Dave Chappelle and Ricky Gervais while maintaining Netflix’s position on free speech.
Both Chapelle and Gervais have come under fire in recent times for controversial jokes directed towards the transgender community.
In an interview with The New York Times, Ted Sarandos went into the criticism the comedians have faced while also not hesitating to back the pair.
Sarandos noted that for comedians to understand where the ‘line’ is they have to be prepared to cross it while explaining that not every bit of content on the streaming platform will be for everyone.
He said: “I think it’s very important to the American culture generally to have free expression.”
He continued: “We’re programming for a lot of diverse people who have different opinions and different tastes and different styles, and yet we’re not making everything for everybody.”
Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special The Closer caused quite a bit of grief for the company after his jokes about trans people led to some employees walking out of the Los Angeles headquarters.
There were calls for the show to be removed from Netflix, however, Sarandos says it was his opportunity to put his free-speech principles to the test.
He said: “It was an opportunity to take somebody, like in Dave’s case, who is, by all measure, the comedian of our generation, the most popular comedian on Netflix for sure. Nobody would say that what he does isn’t thoughtful or smart. You just don’t agree with him. ”
Chappelle faced a wave of criticism from the LGBTQ+ community earlier this month after he was attacked on stage during the Netflix Is a Joke comedy festival in Los Angeles.
Despite the serious situation, Chappelle managed to get in a joke about the trans community, saying it was a ‘trans man’ who attacked him on stage.
Meanwhile, Ricky Gervais's latest stand-up show Super Nature featured a fair bit of commentary on the transgender community.
During the stand-up special he joked about ‘new’ women with ‘beards and c**ks’ but maintained that he supported trans rights.
However, he later added: "But meet me halfway, ladies. Lose the c**k. That’s all I’m saying."
He said: “My target wasn't trans folk, but trans activist ideology. I've always confronted dogma that oppresses people and limits freedom of expression.
"It was probably the most current, most talked about, taboo subject of the last couple of years. I deal in taboo subjects and have to confront the elephant in the room."
Netflix’s latest corporate stance is very much in line with Chappelle and Gervais’ aims of pushing the boundaries as well.
A corporate memo sent out to employees earlier this month said: “If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.”
Featured Image Credit: PictureLux / The Hollywood Archive / Alamy. PA Images / Alamy.
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