Co-CEO Ted Sarandos' memo to his Netflix staff defending Chappelle's "artistic freedom" in response to the backlash over his homophobic and transphobic jokes in his The Closer special "takes my breath away every time" I read it, says Mary McNamara. "The first paragraph alone is a master class in psycho-villain monologuing," says McNamara. "It opens with good Ted, kindly Ted, just wanting to 'follow up,' in a solicitous HR-corporate way, about The Closer; he knows (because he listens) that many people in Netflix management are wondering how they should frame internal conversations about the show. Or rather, how the managers should explain why, exactly, a self-proclaimed inclusive streamer would give Chappelle an enormous platform to insist queer people are too sensitive by doubling down on jokes about bringing back 'the days of the glory hole' and trans women being like Beyond Burgers." McNamara adds: "Instead of writing this wonderfully terrible, lip-servicey, tone-deaf memo on 'hard and uncomfortable issues,' just say what you mean. That it doesn’t matter that The Closer is an obvious f-you to anyone who has criticized Chappelle for his bizarre obsession with attacking the LGBTQ community because Chappelle is, as he says at the beginning of the show, rich and famous. The fact that he is Black makes his power and influence regrettably remarkable, but the way he uses them in this case isn’t edgy or ground-breaking at all. What on Earth is edgy about an AIDS joke? Or a 'she’s got an Adam’s apple' joke? As Chappelle knows all too well, lots of people are bigoted; lots of people think anyone who doesn’t look like them should just shut up and take it. Many people will watch The Closer for the same reason they watch Fox News. Because it validates the way they already feel. That‘s the problem. That — and the fact that Netflix is apparently cool with telling its staff and the communities they court that inclusion is important, just not as important as driving up the numbers and making lots and lots of money."
TOPICS: Ted Sarandos, Netflix, Dave Chappelle: The Closer, Dave Chappelle, Terra Field, LGBTQ, Standup Comedy