Netflix CEO Defends Dave Chappelle, Gets Ripped By Comedian Hannah Gadsby Over ‘Hate Speech’ Controversy

Chappelle’s comedy special “The Closer” has been labeled “hate speech” by Gadsby and other Netflix content creators.

Dave Chappelle (Photo: Getty Images)
Photo: Getty Images

Comedian Hannah Gadsby is firing back at Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos after the streaming boss doubled down on his defense of Dave Chappelle’s controversial comedy special The Closer.

Chappelle’s latest standup special has faced backlash from some viewers, activists and even Netflix employees for including jokes that have been described as “hate speech” against the LGBTQ+ community.

In a memo sent to Netflix staffers on Wednesday, Sarandos singled out Gadsby when giving examples of the diverse content that the streaming giant produces.

“We are working hard to ensure marginalized communities aren’t defined by a single story,” he wrote via Deadline. “So we have Sex Education, Orange is the New Black, Control Z, Hannah Gadsby and Dave Chappelle all on Netflix. Key to this is increasing diversity on the content team itself.”

But Gadsby shot back at Sarandos with a fiery response on Instagram.

“Hey Ted Sarandos! Just a quick note to let you know that I would prefer if you didn’t drag my name into your mess. Now I have to deal with even more of the hate and anger that Dave Chapelle’s fans like to unleash on me every time Dave gets 20 million dollars to process his emotionally stunted partial world view,” she wrote on Instagram.

“You didn’t pay me nearly enough to deal with the real world consequences of the hate speech dog whistling you refuse to acknowledge, Ted. Fuck you and your amoral algorithm cult…I do shits with more back bone than you. That’s just a joke! I definitely didn’t cross a line because you just told the world there isn’t one.”

Sarandos defended Chappelle’s comedy special in a prior email to employees last week, and pointed out that the famed comedian’s previous special, Sticks & Stones, is Netflix’s “most watched, stickiest, and most award winning stand-up special to date.”

“It never feels good when people are hurting, especially our colleagues,” Sarandos reportedly wrote. “You should also be aware that some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.”

“Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate,” he added. “We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe ‘The Closer’ crosses that line.

“I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”

Chappelle dismissed the backlash at a recent event at the Hollywood Bowl, cracking, “If this is what being canceled is, I love it!” to a starry crowd that included Brad Pitt, Tiffany Haddish and Bradley Cooper.

But that hasn’t stopped activists and groups including GLAAD, the National Black Justice Coalition and Jaclyn Moore–the transgender showrunner of Netflix’s Dear White People–from calling for The Closer to be pulled from the streamer.