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Dave Chappelle

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos (left) and comedian Dave Chappelle at the Netflix FYSEE Kick-Off Event at Raleigh Studios on May 6, 2018, in Los Angeles. 

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said the streaming service will not remove Dave Chappelle’s new comedy special “The Closer,” which has faced a backlash for featuring controversial comments, including an antisemitic joke.

After “The Closer” premiered last week, Chappelle was criticized by the LGBTQ+ community for poking fun at trans people and gender identity. The comedian was also denounced for making an antisemitic joke about “Space Jews” seeking world domination, which plays into a common antisemitic trope.

In a memo sent on Friday, Sarandos told senior staff members that “some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.”

“Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long-standing deal with him,” he wrote. “As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom, even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful.”

Sarandos noted as an example the reality series “My Unorthodox Life,” about a fashion executive who left the ultra-Orthodox Jewish faith. He then explained that the streaming giant does not allow titles “designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe ‘The Closer’ crosses that line.”

He added, “I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy, which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean-spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”

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