Just hours before the planned walkout by Netflix's trans and allied workers due to comments made in a recent special by Dave Chappelle, Ted Sarandos, co-CEO of Netflix, has admitted that he messed up his response to employees about outrage from within.
The streaming service premiered Chappelle's special The Closer earlier in the month. It immediately faced criticism from both members and allies within the LGBTQ+ community, as well as employees at Netflix who accused it of being transphobic. Sarandos for his part has stood by The Closer, saying that Netflix does not allow titles that incite hatred or violence on its streaming service. We don't believe The Closer crosses this line.
The Netflix executive said in a Variety interview that he should have been more humane in his responses to employees. He continues to defend the special, however, on the eve before the planned walkout.
I would have been more human if I had led.
It meant that I had employees who felt pain and hurt because of a decision we made. Sarandos says that this should be known before you dive into the details of any matter. That was not what I did. This was unusual for me. It was fast moving and we were trying answer specific questions. Some things we landed with were more general and factual than others, which is not accurate.
Sarandos answered a question about Netflix's definition of hate speech. He said that Netflix does not define what constitutes intentional physical harm or the removal of protections. Intention to cause bodily harm is a clear line for me.
Separately, Sarandos spoke to The Hollywood Reporter for an interview published Tuesday night ahead of the planned walkout. Sarandos, as he stated in his interview with Variety, stands by The Closer but describes his response to criticisms of The Closer's internal communications as very clumsy and public.
Sarandos stated in both interviews that he has been speaking with Netflix employees to discuss their views on the special. He reiterates in both interviews that Netflix values artistic expressions and that Netflix will continue to hold that view as part of its ethos.
Sarandos also spoke to other publications, such as Deadline and The Wall Street Journal. Sarandos' comments are largely the same in all his quoted conversations.