After Sarandos referenced Gadsby in a defense of Dave Chappelle’s recent special, Gadsby replied with a scorching Instagram post: “Now I have to deal with even more of the hate and anger that Dave Chappelle’s fans like to unleash on me every time Dave gets 20 million dollars.”
Comedian Hannah Gadsby minced no words when responding to Netflix head Ted Sarandos after the co-CEO included her name in a written defense of Dave Chappelle. She was referenced in a company-wide staff memo that addressed escalating concerns over Chappelle’s anti-trans jokes in his new stand-up special, *The Closer—*and she’s not the only talent associated with Netflix who is speaking up.
In the second memo from Sarandos, sent Monday and published on Wednesday, the Netflix chief continued to stand by Chappelle, confirming that the special would not be removed from Netflix. Sarandos also argued that Chappelle’s comedy about the LGBTQ+ community “doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.” He then trotted out diverse titles on Netflix as proof of the company’s overall ethos. “We are working hard to ensure marginalized communities aren’t defined by a single story,” he wrote. “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.”
Gadsby, who broke out with her 2018 Netflix special, Nanette, and sold her follow-up, Douglas, to the streamer, didn’t appreciate the shout-out. “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,” she wrote on Instagram early Friday. “Now I have to deal with even more of the hate and anger that Dave Chappelle’s fans like to unleash on me every time Dave gets 20 million dollars to process his emotionally stunted partial world view.”
The comic continued, writing, “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.” Gadsby captioned her post, “Yes I watched the whole thing. Leave me alone. #transisbeautiful #comedyisdead #ikilledit.”
Other writers and performers at Netflix have issued grievances with its handling of the controversial Chappelle special. Jaclyn Moore, an openly trans showrunner on Netflix’s Dear White People, tweeted that she would cut ties with the company “as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.” Jonathan Van Ness, a nonbinary cohost of Netflix’s Queer Eye, tweeted on Monday, “The violence and harm perpetuated against Trans, NB & Intersex folks is relentless and people pay with their lives, their livelihoods, and we’re sick of it. It breaks my heart that such important people and platforms continue to ignore that.”
Disclosure, a documentary about the impact of media portrayal on the trans community, which aired on Netflix in 2020, has been referenced in the ongoing backlash. When asked for comment by Variety, GLAAD responded to Sarandos’s latest memo by explaining that pop culture has “been filled with stereotypes and misinformation about us for decades, leading to real-world harm, especially for trans people and LGBTQ people of color. Ironically, the documentary Disclosure on Netflix demonstrates this quite clearly.”
Jen Richards, an openly trans actor featured in the doc, tweeted her own thoughts on Thursday. “I love all the love @Disclosure_Doc is getting, but I’d like to clarify that Netflix did not produce or commission our doc,” she wrote. “They purchased the streaming rights for less than half of what it cost to make and relied on us to promote it. Most of us paid our own way to Sundance.”