Netflix CEO apologizes for having principles – Reason.com

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There’s really no good reason why we should always be talking about Dave Chappelle’s 2-week stand-up special. The closest. Except that Netflix employees used it as a way to fit into the high-profile business of the company, demanding that the company accede to their demands, apparently as a penance for its decision to set up Chappelle. .

For people who actually spent an hour of their time watching the special, it is too much to portray Chappelle as a man of animosity towards the trans community. He is keen to oppose North Carolina’s bathroom bills, which would ban transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice, saying no American should have to show their birth certificate to shit in a Walmart bathroom (true). He tries to differentiate between such petty laws and feeling annoyed by the rapidly changing elite consensus that we need to actively encourage the transgender rights movement, as opposed to just not at all interested in the applications of a niche subgroup. It ends with the story of her friend, transgender comic Daphne Dorman, who committed suicide after facing online fury from people in the trans community (although Chappelle was careful not to attribute a cause singular to his decision to commit suicide). The cross line is a commentary on the plight of the black man in America, as well as a lament that it is terribly easy for people to be excluded from polite society, immediately and retroactively, for committing acts or uttering words that offend the ill-calibrated sensibilities of people. .

The special is distinctively irreverent, which is what you should expect if you’ve seen literally everything Chappelle has worked on before. And it created such a storm of internal criticism that Netflix’s trans employee resource group staged a walkout, which took place earlier today, while posing a request list at the feet of Netflix executives.

The disengagement itself did not represent much (a not huge crowd of Netflix employees, as well as a few counter-protesters with rather lukewarm signs like “We love Dave” and “I love jokes”), but Twitter really wanted users to believe this was a big deal, promoting the walkout as a trendy moment. Many important actors and comedians, like Elliot Page and Wanda Sykes, have garnered support for the protest. Demands from the protesters, who, oddly enough, don’t actually call for Chappelle’s removal, involve specific demands: the company must add warnings before transphobic or hateful content; offer “trans-affirmative” content alongside content deemed transphobic; “Hire trans and non-binary content executives, in particular BIPOC, to leadership positions”; create a new fund that specifically cultivates and platforms the work of trans and non-binary creators; and review the processes involved in the conservation of transphobic content. After opening the door, low-level transgender rights activists try to force Netflix executives to engage in affirmative action and aggressive content moderation.

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos, who recently defended Chappelle in a letter to employees (“on-screen content does not directly translate into actual harm,” he wrote) now says that he miscalculated. “I should have led with a lot more humanity.… I had a group of employees who were definitely feeling pain and grief because of a decision we made,” he said. . Recount Variety. “Because we’re trying to keep the world entertained, and the world is made up of people with a lot of different sensibilities and beliefs and sense of humor and all of those things – sometimes there will be things on Netflix that you don’t. like, ”Sarandos continued, saying they would drop content that calls for“ intentionally harming other people ”and promoting the company’s“ creative investment fund ”, which supports creators of trans and non-binary content. Sarandos did not reiterate his original question as to whether the content that appears on screen “will translate directly into damage in the real world.”

It’s good that Sarandos hasn’t completely pulled back from its defense of providing artistic freedom to creators who partner with Netflix, and it’s perfectly reasonable for CEOs to want to cultivate content that appeals to different subgroups. But it has blundered by ceding ground to a small group of employees who have drastic demands on the structure and priorities of a massive company with clients all over the world. Having initially championed a good move, Sarandos looks a bit like another CEO in a long line whose employees have managed to keep their feet on the fire, demanding a digital world littered with content warnings and a physical world filled with ‘diversified hires.

This moment of moral panic is based on the idea that portraying or discussing wrongdoing somehow leads to terrible acts that end up harming the physical safety of vulnerable people. We don’t have good data to indicate this (except perhaps for the representation of suicides, where the data better confirms the idea of ​​a contagion effect), but people are uncritically throwing this concept around. , rarely stopping to ask if Chappelle’s jokes about trans people have any radicalizing power that turns otherwise benevolent honest people into violent transphobes. We have no evidence to indicate that they do, and for some reason this essential question has been repeatedly dismissed, as if it has nothing to do with how we should move forward.



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