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Netflix Defends Chappelle, Gervais: Free Speech Once "Liberal Issue"

If anyone thinks that Ted Sarandos has changed the streaming service's position when it comes to its position on defending the artistic freedom of comedians like Dave Chappelle and Ricky Gervais, the Netflix co-CEO made it clear in an interview with The New York Times that it hasn't. In fact, Sarandos used some of his interview time to further argue the streamer's position. During his conversation with Maureen Dowd, Sarandos admitted that he was surprised by the backlash both Chappelle and Gervais received (both comedians have been called out by the LGBTQ community for their jokes about the trans community) but said that that "crossing the line every once in a while" is necessary for comedians to know where the lines of what's considered acceptable are set. "I think it's very important to the American culture generally to have free expression," he explained- and that means not everything on the streaming service will be to everyone's liking.

Image: Netflix/Screencap

"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," Sarandos argued. Speaking to the Chappelle controversy (though he says in the interview that his views also apply to Gervais), Sarandos said it "wasn't hard in that way" and that " rarely do you get the opportunity to put your principles to the test" when it came to defending the comedian, he said. "It was an opportunity to take somebody, like in Dave's case, who is, by all measure, the comedian of our generation, the most popular comedian on Netflix for sure. Nobody would say that what he does isn't thoughtful or smart. You just don't agree with him," he added.

Sarandos offered some bigger-picture perspective on how he views the current climate, which finds conservatives celebrating the streamer's decision to back the comedians. "It used to be a very liberal issue, so it's an interesting time that we live in," Sarandos offered regarding how he sees times as changing. As he sees it, how we approach freedom of artistic expression here in the U.S. will have ripple effects on how we conduct business around the globe, saying, "I always said if we censor in the US, how are we going to defend our content in the Middle East?"

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Ray FlookAbout Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.
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