Netflix is finally admitting that transphobia has real-life effects.
After firmly siding with Dave Chappelle after complaints that his latest Netflix comedy special The Closer was transphobic and could lead to real-life harm to trans women and other trans people, Netflix co-chief executive officer Ted Sarandos and the company are finally admitting that they messed up.
Not only did Sarandos apologize, but the company itself issued a statement supporting employees who chose to participate in the walkout against the company happening today in Los Angeles.
“We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that’s been caused,” a spokesperson for the company said. “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.
The walkout is scheduled for 10:30am PST today at a Hollywood Netflix office. Participants include Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness, Jameela Jamil, Sara Ramirez, Angelica Ross, TS Madison, Eureka O’Hara, Colton Haynes, and Ashlee Marie Preston.
The statement from the company comes after Sarandos made his own statement in an interview with Deadline last night. In the statement, he admitted to “screwing up.”
“I feel I should’ve made sure to recognize that a group of our employees was hurting very badly from the decision made, and I should’ve recognized upfront before going into a rationalization of anything the pain they were going through,” Sarandos said. “I say that because I respect them deeply, and I love the contribution they have at Netflix. They were hurting, and I should’ve recognized that first.”
He also admitted that his statement that content doesn’t translate to real-world harm was woefully misguided.
“And the big blanket statement should’ve been, of course storytelling has an impact on the real world — sometimes positive and sometimes negative. That is why I work here, that content actually can make the world a better place through our storytelling, through onscreen representation and all those things,” Sarandos continued. “So it was a gross simplification. And it didn’t land where it should have, which is, there was a conversation about the one-to-one impact of a certain piece of content.”
Still, Sarandos ended the interview saying he doesn’t have any regrets about releasing the special, not editing it, and not putting any content warnings.
“Stand-up comedy is a pretty singular voice art form,” he said. “The comedians will road test the material for some times two years before they record their special so we really don’t get involved and interfere with the material itself, and I think it’s consistent with a brand of stand-up comedy and certainly consistent with Dave Chappelle’s comedy, so I don’t think a warning card or an edit would’ve been appropriate.”