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Netflix co-CEO continues to back transphobic comedians

Ted Sarandos

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos has continued to back the streamer’s big-budget stand-up specials that have come under fire for their content.

Ricky Gervais’ latest special SuperNature has performed well for the streamer, but has been heavily criticised for the comic’s use of trans people as a punchline, with an extended routine that relies on staid talking points about trans people being sex offenders. 

Gervais is not alone here, with fellow middle-aged comedian Dave Chapelle also using his most recent Netflix special as a platform to attack trans people.

Chapelle’s special was considered so offensive by some that a group of Netflix employees accused the streamer of transphobia. When this complaint fell on deaf ears, a number of employees went one step further and staged a walkout.

In response to the publication of Supernature, LGBTQ+ organisation GLAAD tweeted: “Netflix has a policy that content “designed to incite hate or violence” is not allowed on their platform, but we all know that anti-LGBTQ content does exactly that. While Netflix is home to some groundbreaking LGBTQ shows, it refuses to enforce its own policy in comedy.”

Despite both incidents and condemnation from the LGBTQ+ community, the company’s co-CEO has defended its approach to comedy in an interview with Maureen Dowd for the New York Times.

“We’re programming for a lot of diverse people who have different opinions and different tastes and different styles, and yet we’re not making everything for everybody. We want something for everybody, but everything’s not going to be for everybody,” he said.

He went on to say that this is a matter of free speech, and argued “if we censor in the US, how are we going to defend our content in the Middle East?”

In the interview it was highlighted that Sarandos has become “a conservative hero” for his repeated refusal to condemn LGBT-phobic content, to which he said that “[free speech] used to be a very liberal issue, so it’s an interesting time that we live in.”

Netflix has recently been praised for positive LGBTQ+ representation in its hit series Heartstopper, which has recently been renewed for seasons two and three, while the upcoming third season of superhero series The Umbrella Academy will see Elliot Page’s real-life gender transition reflected in the storyline of the show.

Tags: Netflix

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