Last Friday, Oct. 8, Sarandos revealed in an email that despite the mounting backlash received in the wake of Chappelle’s latest special, it would not be removed from streaming services. Earlier this week, as many continued to request the removal of the show and called for the cancellation of Chappelle altogether, the streaming boss sent out another email, according to Variety, this time to staff.
In a second email, Sarandos doubled down on his defense of Chappelle while acknowledging that many didn’t agree with his views on the comedian. “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,” he began.
“Also, we have many new colleagues who want to better understand the principles that guide our team’s content choices, especially with challenging titles like this. Our goal is to entertain the world, which means programming for a diversity of tastes. This member-centric view has driven our growth over the last 20 years, despite all the competition, and remains Netflix’s north star today,” he added.
Elsewhere, the CEO wrote, “While some employees disagree, we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”
Sarandos explained his viewpoint stating that “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.”
Sarandos wrote that his hope is that employees could still appreciate the brand while not necessarily caring for some of its content. He noted that, “This will not be the last title that causes some of you to wonder if you can still love Netflix, before adding, “I sincerely hope that you can.”
The controversy has sparked many debates around freedom of speech, including fellow comedian Damon Wayans who shared that Chappelle is just exercising his freedom. Earlier this week, the “My Wife and Kids” star told TMZ “I feel like Dave freed the slaves.” He added, “The comedians, we were slaves to PC culture and he just, you know, as an artist, he’s Van Gogh. Cut his ear off. He’s trying to tell us it’s OK.”