Despite initially backing away from Dave Chappelle after his controversial comedy special, The Closer, sparked online backlash and an employee walkout, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos doubled down on his defense of the comedian and Ricky Gervais. Both comics have been criticized for repeatedly joking about the transgender community, and Sarandos made it clear that Netflix has no interest in censoring them or any comics with similar material.
While attending the “Future of Entertainment” panel at Cannes Lion, Sarandos defending Netflix’s decision to carry Chappelle and Gervais’ stand-up material. “We’ve always been a supporter of the art,” the CEO said before launching into a longer statement about how the streaming platform will vigorously fight any form of censorship. Via Deadline:
“Part of the art form is to cross the line, and part of the art form means you only find where the line is by crossing it sometimes. Supporting expression is really important.”
He added it was “almost impossible” to censor Chapelle despite the backlash against him, saying Netflix would “fight” for his content “all the way to the Supreme Court.” Sarandos noted the streamer had “never taken [Chappelle’s special] down anywhere in the world.”
“Diversity of thought, expression, is super important to defend. It’s good for culture, it’s good for society — not just for the U.S. but everywhere.”
Sarandos’ full-throated defense of Chappelle and Gervais is not the only interesting development for Netflix over the past 24 hours. Shortly before Sarandos’ Cannes Lion appearance, the streamer launched Snowflake Mountain, a reality series where eight young contestants who are “overly emotional, easily offended, and dramatic” are sent off into the wilderness to learn survival skills from combat veterans.
You can see the trailer below:
The launch of Snowflake Mountain coupled with Sarandos’ doubling down on Chappelle and Gervais seemingly suggests that Netflix is ramping up content for the “anti-woke” crowd, for lack of a better term. The streaming platform has already seen its stock price plummet due to losing subscribers in the first quarter of 2022, and it’s projected to lose even more in the second quarter. Granted, it just had a smash hit with Stranger Things 4, but that series won’t return for its final season for at least a year if not more. Until then, Netflix will have to find a way to secure subscribers, and appealing to the “owning the libs” crowd could be part of the plan.