Ted Sarandos’ defense of the Dave Chappelle Special misses the point

The second memo that Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos issued to Netflix staff over Dave Chappelle and stand-up comedy only proves that he does not understand why people are actually excited like Chappelle the transgender in his new special approach “The closer. ” In the his first answer, Sarandos emphasizes that even though “some people find the art of stand-up as mediocre … our members enjoy it.” In the the second, he again asserts Chappelle’s right to “artistic freedom”. And both emphasize that neither he nor anyone with the Netflix credentials believe that Chappelle’s extensive transgender material transcends the line “designed to end hatred or violence” —and even if it does, violence on television does not necessarily “right away translate for the right damage. “

Together, Sarandos’ memoirs do little to address the actual critique of “The Closer.” However, they offer an unusually honest window on how the executive, who runs one of the most powerful networks in the world, seems to understand the basics of how people can be influenced by the media.

Chappelle knew how to take the stage for “The Closer,” his latest Netflix special for the foreseeable future, reading his past material on the LGBTQ community – a phrase he says with enough strenuous accent to make the audience laugh. to achieve what he was looking for – would prove controversial. The fact that it did is not a mistake in his comedy, but a key feature. What’s really surprising is how Chappelle talks about trans people and “The Closer” then is like a lot he talks about trans people, period. It is clear that the retrospective he has received over the years from “that community” has stuck with him in a way that he finds unfair. His “goal”, he says directly from the bat, is to “answer all the questions you have about everyone [LGBTQ] Jokes I’ve been saying over the last few years. And so for the majority of this set, the chappelle does everything from express solidarity with trans people to declaring themselves “Team TERF” alongside JK Rowling, asking if there is “anything like a woman or a man or anything at all” more is. ” He shares anecdotes about making a girlfriend of a trans woman and beating a trans woman. He calls North Carolina’s anti-trans bathroom law “a middle ground” before going into graphic detail about what he would think, and sees a trans person sitting next to him on a urinal.

On a basic storytelling level, Chappelle spends so much time on this topic and crosses so many different wires on the way to very different conclusions that the whole set gets lost in the fog, “these people couldn’t even really cancel me out.” He is so frustrated that his trans critics in his view seem to recite tired bullet points without listening to what he says he has trouble talking about at all. So I watched the special, and listened carefully to what he actually said between his statements that he was not actually “indifferent to the suffering of others.” But even if Chappelle tries to do some damage control, almost everything he says about trans people is constructed to make the concept of trans people look too ridiculous to take seriously.

As Sarandos shows in both of his memo, it is Chappelle’s right to say what he thinks. But Sarandos rejects the idea that Chappelle’s rhetoric is violent, or that the violence on TV against real-life violence rates has a correlation to what makes his punchlines violent, would be ridiculous if it were not so relevant.

Sarandos and other Netflix executives have spent years saying that “representation matters” refers to titles like “Orange Is the New Black” and “Sex Education” as helping to define “marginalized communities” of a single story. The 2020 Documentary “Publication” – who bought Netflix from Sundance – provides clear examples of how the media treats trans people as negatively affecting a horrific joke how trans people feel and were recognized by others. Netflix also apologized to experts who suggested that a particularly graphic suicide scene in its smash hit drama “13 Reasons Why” correlates directly with a spike in teenage suicide attempts. At a 2020 panel, Sarandos himself admitted that “many great movies have changed the course of history.” For Sarandos to say now that Netflix’s offerings are neutral, and that the company “has a strong belief that the content on the screen does not directly translate into real harm,” is true as he tries to have it both ways.

As for Chappelle’s specialty himself: no, the comedian never goes so far as to condone violence against trans people, and yes, he is careful to say that he “does not say that trans women are not women.” And yet, as he frames it, over and over again, the trans people in his experience are mostly just selfish aberrations who love nothing more than to mix nothing, well-meaning people to fall into the mess. As Chappelle describes taking stages with a hyper-consciousness for telling “Knuckles in Adam’s Apples”, he emphasizes just how somehow strange he finds the whole concept of trans people at all. For the most part, Chappelle describes the trans people as uncomfortable, thin skin tones that are probably just confusing, hurting their stupid hearts.

This is, despite Chappelle and Sarandos’ insistence otherwise, transphobia at its most basic, harmful and downright disappointing. Neither seem willing nor able to acknowledge the fact that there is no need for verbal shouting to make an audience, especially one already intended to take Chappelle’s word as gospel, more willing to dismiss the trans people altogether. It is almost worse that the chappelle wraps these feelings in false understanding; so he can claim a kind of cover for the criticism he now has.

To tell Sarandos that the incredibly wide range of Chappelle’s carefully chosen, invalid words has no bearing on the everyday indignities that people face is to take an amazingly short-sighted position. Insist that #RepresentationMatters – until a standup comedian says otherwise – does nothing but show where his true priorities lie. And while Sarandos may not understand the finer nuances of how the media in general can influence people, leaving hundreds of hours of worldwide content to monitor, he is simply out of his depth on this crucial topic.

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