Following a messy public battle that’s already resulted in one employee being fired, Netflix has softened its stance on the ongoing employee revolt over the streaming service’s handling of the Dave Chappelle controversy. The comedian’s latest special, The Closer, has been heavily criticized for its transphobic and homophobic messaging, which has sparked an employee walkout on Wednesday October 20.
At issue is Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos‘ repeated defense of Chappelle’s special, which he argued does not cause “real-world harm.” Notably, the employees organizing the walkout do not want Netflix to remove the special, but instead, for the company to enact specific efforts towards ensuring more inclusive voices are involved in decision-making processes. The group also wants warning labels placed ahead of content similar to Chappelle’s special.
After firing the organizer of the walkout for allegedly leaking internal documents to the press, Netflix issued a statement supporting the walkout that’s scheduled for today. Via Variety:
“We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that’s been caused. We respect the decision of any employee who chooses to walk out, and recognize we have much more work to do both within Netflix and in our content.”
In addition to supporting the walkout, Sarandos conceded on Tuesday that he “screwed up” with his defense of Chappelle. “I should have first and foremost acknowledged in those emails that a group of our employees were in pain, and they were really feeling hurt from a business decision that we made,” Sarandos told The Hollywood Reporter. “Instead of acknowledging that first, I went right into some rationales. And so first of all, I’d say those emails lacked humanity, in which I like to and I do generally communicate with our teams.”
Sarandos also acknowledged that he was wrong to say that content can’t have real-life consequences, but he defended Netflix’s decision to air Chappelle’s special. He said the company always tells employees upfront that “some of the content on Netflix you’re not going to like.”