Hannah Gadsby slams Netflix CEO over Dave Chappelle special: 'F--- you and your amoral algorithm cult'
Comedian Hannah Gadsby wrote a blistering response to Netflix head Ted Sarandos, after the streaming giant's co-CEO reportedly included her name in a staff memo addressing the fallout from anti-trans comments made by Dave Chappelle in his new stand-up special The Closer.
"Just a quick note to let you know that I would prefer if you didn't drag my name into your mess," the 43-year-old Australian performer, who's lesbian, wrote on Instagram after a Variety article noted that, in an internal message to Netflix staff, Sarandos used Gadsby's name as an example of strong LGBTQIA+ content on the platform.
"Now I have to deal with even more of the hate and anger that Dave Chapelle's [sic] fans like to unleash on me every time Dave gets 20 million dollars to process his emotionally stunted partial world view," she continued. "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."
Per Variety, Sarandos' memo indicated that, despite Chappelle's anti-trans commentary in the concert film, the brand doesn't believe The Closer poses a real-world threat to the community. He wrote that Netflix is "working hard to ensure marginalized communities aren't defined by a single story" after enduring swift backlash from viewers, LGBTQIA+ groups, and even Netflix employees. "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."
Gadsby, who won an Emmy for her 2018 Netflix stand-up special Nanette, addressed Sarandos' dismissal of the community's response — including a reaction from trans Netflix employee Terra Field, who tweeted about "harm that content like this does to the trans community (especially trans people of color) and VERY specifically Black trans women" after accusing Chappelle's jokes as attacking "the validity of transness."
"I do s---s with more back bone than you," Gadsby's response continued. "That's just a joke! I definitely didn't cross a line because you just told the world there isn't one."
After Field, one of the streamer's senior software engineers, criticized the release of The Closer on social media, she — along with two other Netflix employees — were suspended by the corporation. Netflix previously confirmed to EW that the suspensions were specifically tied to their attendance at a quarterly business meeting and not to their public criticism of the brand of the special, indicating in a statement that "our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so." They were later reinstated, though employees have reportedly planned an upcoming walkout in further protest of The Closer and Netflix's response.
The Closer, which was released on Oct. 5, features Chappelle, 48, saying that he's "team TERF," referencing the trans-exclusionary radical feminist movement that notably made headlines after Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling was accused of subscribing to the ideology in a controversial essay.
Chappelle also says gender "is a fact" in The Closer, and remarks about trans women's genitalia while railing against "cancel culture."
"Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate," Sarandos' memo to staff added. "We don't allow titles [at] Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don't believe The Closer crosses that line. I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean-spirited but our members enjoy it, and it's an important part of our content offering."
Netflix initially had no comment on Variety's report about Sarandos' memo, and didn't immediately respond to EW's follow-up request for confirmation on the note's contents.
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