Netflix Co-CEO Still Stands By Chappelle Special
As the Netflix trans employee resource group continues planning an Oct. 20 walkout in protest of the company continuing to platform the transphobic content in Dave Chappelle’s “The Closer,” a new internal email shows Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos doubling down on his stance that the special “doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”
According to Variety, a company-wide email sent Monday from Sarandos reiterated many of the same points touched on in a leaked memo to Netflix leadership sent on Friday. Sarandos addressed many employees’ anger over the streaming platform’s decision to keep the special available but didn’t budge from his position of not removing the special despite calls from multiple LGBTQ organizations, talent and employees.
Sarando defended his decision by claiming that users “enjoy shocking stand-up comedy – without it causing them to harm others.”
“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,” Sarandos said. “While some employees disagree, we have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”
Sarandos highlighted “first party shooter games” while arguing that the increase of physical violence in visual media compared to the decrease in violent crime represents “the strongest evidence” to his point. What Sarandos’ argument doesn’t take into consideration is the rising rate at which trans individuals have been murdered in the U.S. in the past two years, including a record 44 in 2020 and 39 in 2021 thus far, according to the Human Rights Campaign.
It also doesn’t take into account how dehumanization such as what is present in Chappelle’s special can empower people with transphobic ideation to express those sentiments in harassing and vitriolic ways. To Sarandos, the criticisms against “The Closer” are just part of Netflix standard operating procedure.
“Our hope is that you can be hugely inspired by entertaining the world, while also living with titles you strongly believe have no place on Netflix,” Sarandos said. “This will not be the last title that causes some of you to wonder if you can still love Netflix. I sincerely hope that you can.”
Takei Responds To Dean Cain
DC Comics’ announcement of Jon Kent becoming the first out bi Superman in the long-running comic book series has drawn immense praise outside of conservative talking heads such as former Superman actor Dean Cain. The “Lois & Clark” star drew ire for framing this latest instance of increased LGBTQ visibility in comics as “bandwagoning” during an appearance on Fox & Friends this week, though much more homophobic remarks proliferated conservative news content.
One of those rebuffing Cain is “Star Trek” star and favorite gay George Takei. Never at a loss for a quip, Takei took to Twitter to voice his displeasure with Cain on Wednesday. “So Dean Cain apparently is upset that the new [Superman] in the comics is bisexual,” Takei wrote. “I used to be upset that Dean Cain was straight but he has definitely cured me of that.”
Takei later retweeted an article chronicling the conservative response to Jon Kent’s coming out with the caption “Oh, you poor little snowflakes.”
Venom: Queer Icon
“Venom” star Tom Hardy shared his thoughts on the character’s burgeoning LGBTQ icon status following the release of “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.” Director Andy Serkis previously highlighted a “coming out” scene in the film where Venom addresses the crowd at a rave that Serkis said was based on an “LGBTQ festival.”
Serkis and Hardy sat down with MTV to chat about the film, and Hardy took the opportunity to speak on the LGBTQ community’s embrace of Venom. We filled and flowed with whatever aspect that anybody thought was enjoyable of the first [film] and try to rollit into the second,” Hardy said.
In the film, Hardy’s Venom voices support for LGBTQ rights, from the perspective of an alien symbiote. “Well, what is interesting is that it’s just like, here he is kind of, he says in the movie, ‘We must stop this cruel treatment of aliens,’” Serkis said in an interview last month. “‘You know, we all live on this ball of rock,’ you know? And so he inadvertently becomes a kind of… he’s speaking for the other. He’s speaking for freedom of the other.”
Hardy continued, “Ultimately it’s about entertaining people and giving people some joy and having something to celebrate and go out and be entertained by it.”
Netflix Trans: Previously on Towleroad
Photo courtesy of Daniel Benavides/Creative Commons