Dave Chappelle is widely regarded as one of the top comedians of recent decades, and he recently released a new special called The Closer (see trailer above) on Netflix. As you probably know, Chappelle is often ruthless and does not shy away from sensitive topics, something that is not so common anymore in these often nervous times.
This, of course, tends to create controversy, and there is currently a debate raging about The Closer that includes jokes about transgender people. This in turn has led to people threatening boycotts and Netflix employees leaving the company. But Netflix has not backed down, but defends Chappelle’s right to joke about any topic.
Here’s what Co-CEO Ted Sarandos had to say on this topic to all Netflix employees in an email:
“We know that a number of you have been left angry, disappointed and hurt by our decision to put Dave Chappelle’s latest special on Netflix. With ‘The Closer,’ we understand that the concern is not about offensive-to-some content but titles which could increase real world harm (such as further marginalizing already marginalized groups, hate, violence etc.) Last year, we heard similar concerns about 365 Days and violence against women. While some employees disagree, we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”
Sarandos explains why he believes that content on a monitor is not the same as real harm, and uses video games as a positive example:
“The strongest evidence to support this is 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. Adults can watch violence, assault and abuse – or enjoy shocking stand-up comedy – without it causing them to harm others.”
We are certainly not used to seeing violent games being defended in this way, but they are still used by less experienced people as evidence of things that are wrong with the world today. Do you think Ted Sarandos and Netflix are right here, or should things like David Chapelle’s stand-up and other potentially harmful content be censored from a streaming service like Netflix?