Ted Sarandos Wants Comedians to “Cross the Line”

Ted Sarandos arrives on the red carpet of The 92nd Oscars at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, CA on Sunday, February 9, 2020. (Richard Harbaugh/©A.M.P.A.S.)

Ted Sarandos continues to make it harder for Netflix’s LGBTQ employees customers by continuing to justify hate speech as comedy.

The Netflix executive never seems to miss an opportunity to defend the likes of Dave Chappelle or Ricky Gervais. This time, his comments come during a “Future of Entertainment” panel at the Cannes Lion advertising conference.

“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.”

When there’s been as much backlash as there has against Netflix for platforming hate, it shows that a line has already been crossed. You do not want to be the person that says you’re fine with this sort of hateful material. How many more times must I repeat myself for people like Sarandos to understand this?!?

Sarandos says that he’s never taken down any Chappelle specials but they censored an episode of Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj because it went after the Saudi royal family. Why is it okay to cave to foreign censors and remove that but not transphobic material? Go on, I’ll wait.

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.”

Sarandos goes on:

“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.”

What about when that thought and expression lead to more acts of hate? Is Sarandos ignoring how far-right wing groups are targeting Pride Parades? What about the comments coming from right-wingers who want to round up LGBTQ people? Transphobic comedy is harmful and platforming it is only going to hurt Netflix in the end. I’ve seen it too many times already–people are dropping Netflix because they platform hate.

There is nothing funny about hate speech in the form of comedy. It is not only hateful material but it ends up being harmful to the targeted community. Let me remind me that weeks of online abuse in 2017 led to my going to the hospital that summer. In the past, I would have been private about this but no more. There are stakes at play during this era in which Republican politicians are taking every possible moment to try and aim Nazi Germany-esque policies towards the transgender community. If you have a problem with me using this comparison, the Holocaust didn’t just happen overnight. It started with boycotts and erasing Jews from the culture.

Does Ted Sarandos really want Netflix to be a platform where comedians side with fascists in their hatred of the LGBTQ community? Personally, I hope not. These are scary times that we live in and I would really hate to see another transphobic comedy special hit the platform. I’m not going to lie here in that Sarandos has really made my job harder. Netflix is filling the void where studios have given up. Sure, there are a bit too many Netflix movies of the week that fit better for Hallmark or Lifetime. But at the same time, there are films that they release because studios have just given up on the mid-budget adult movie. If there’s a film that draws my interest, I’ll cover it but enough is enough already. It’s going to become sooner than later before I stop covering Netflix all together.

How much longer before Sarandos understands the bigger picture? There’s nothing wrong with comedians choosing to be edgy. But when they choose to be a platform for hate, that’s where they cross the line. Ted, did you not notice how people are ending their Netflix subscriptions? People can blame the big-budget movies all they want but they cannot ignore the amount of transphobic comedy specials. The specials are crossing a line and only harm the LGBTQ community, especially the transgender community.

I’m all for free speech but when it crosses a line into hatred, that’s where it goes too far. Ted Sarandos needs to ask himself just how far is too far before it’s too late. How many more transphobic specials before more customers decide to say screw it and stop subscribing to Netflix.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.