Dave Chapelle doesn’t care if you’re mad. Apparently, neither does Netflix.
The trailblazing streaming service recently issued a new corporate memo, telling employees it will not censor or end partnerships with entertainers just because some staffers deem their work personally offensive.
“If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you,” reads the memo, which is part of a new “artistic expression” section of the company’s policy, according to Variety.
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Netflix’s updated internal language comes several months after Chapelle sparked the ire of some employees who claimed his latest special on the platform, “The Closer,” was “transphobic” due to a handful of jokes he made during the 70-minute performance, Time reported at the time.
The entertainment brand statement indicated employees could be required to work on projects they “perceive to be harmful” and — if that is too difficult a cross to bear — such staffers might be better suited for a different job.
“Entertaining the world is an amazing opportunity and also a challenge because viewers have very different tastes and points of view,” reads the statement. “So we offer a wide variety of TV shows and movies, some of which can be provocative.”
It continues, “We support the artistic expression of the creators we choose to work with,” adding, “We let viewers decide what’s appropriate for them, versus having Netflix censor specific artists or voices.”
Chapelle, for his part, has drawn headlines in recent days, following an incident that occurred during his set for “Netflix is a Joke” — a Netflix-sponsored comedy festival — at Los Angeles’ Hollywood Bowl.
During his May 3 performance, 23-year-old Isaiah Lee reportedly jumped onto the stage and attacked the comedian. Lee was brandishing a switchblade, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Earlier this week, LA Superior Court Judge Armenui Amy Ashvanian declined Lee’s request to have his $30,000 bail reduced. The alleged attacker remains behind bars as he awaits his pretrial hearing, set for May 20.
Gabriel Colwell, the attorney representing Chapelle, voiced disappointment over the LA County District Attorney’s Office's decision not to pursue felony charges against Lee, calling the move a “travesty of justice.”
“The city attorney, who filed the case, is doing his job but DA Gascón should also do his job and charge this as a felony,” he told the New York Post, adding, “Entertainers in LA need to know this is a justice system that will protect them. There is no question here that when someone is violently assaulted by another in possession of a deadly weapon that it should be charged as a felony.”
District Attorney George Gascón issued a statement of his own: “After reviewing the evidence, prosecutors determined that while criminal conduct occurred, the evidence as presented did not constitute felony conduct.”
So far, authorities have not identified Lee’s motive.
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