Hannah Gadsby slams Netflix exec for using her in defense of Dave Chappelle

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Comedian Hannah Gadsby responded to Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos in a searing statement after he referenced her in a memo responding to Dave Chappelle's new controversial stand-up special.

Chappelle's special, "The Closer," has garnered outrage for a series of comments that insult the transgender community. Chappelle referred to himself as "Team TERF," referencing a nickname for a community that believes transgender women aren't women, and compared being transgender to wearing blackface.

Gadsby and Chappelle. (Getty Images/ Netflix)
Gadsby and Chappelle. (Getty Images/ Netflix)

Netflix has defended Chapelle in the face of the controversy, even as creators threaten to boycott the platform and employees plan to protest. In Sarandos' internal staff memo, which was published by Variety on Oct. 13, the co-CEO wrote that TV watchers enjoying "shocking stand-up comedy" or viewing content with "violence, assault, and abuse" doesn't cause "them to harm others." Sarandos compared the special to other controversial shows, including "13 Reasons Why," and praised Chappelle's previous work on the platform.

Related: "Content doesn't directly translate to real-world harm," Ted Sarandos said in an email to the streamer's entire staff.

"We are working hard to ensure marginalized communities aren’t defined by a single story. So we have ‘Sex Education,’ ‘Orange is the New Black,’ ‘Control Z,’ Hannah Gadsby and Dave Chappelle all on Netflix," wrote Sarandos. "Key to this is increasing diversity on the content team itself."

On Friday morning, Gadsby, who has two comedy stand-ups streaming on Netflix and is openly gay, published a response to Sarandos' memo on her Instagram account.

"Hey Ted Sarandos!" the Australian comedian wrote. "Just a quick note to let you know that I would prefer if you didn’t drag my name into your mess. Now I have to deal with even more of the hate and anger that Dave Chapelle’s fans like to unleash on me every time Dave gets 20 million dollars to process his emotionally stunted partial world view. 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."

Gadsby ended her note with a reference to an earlier memo that Sarandos had sent to employees on Oct. 11 where he said that Netflix executives believed that "The Closer" didn't cross the line into hate speech.

"F-k you and your amoral algorithm cult... I do sh-ts with more backbone than you," Gadsby wrote. "That’s just a joke! I definitely didn’t cross a line because you just told the world there isn’t one."

Fans and followers quickly came out in support of Gadsby.

"Hannah. You are incredibly special. Never change a damn f--king thing and thank god for you," wrote actor Ruby Rose, who is gender-fluid and once starred on Netflix's "Orange is the New Black."

"Hannah. Well f--king said," wrote non-binary actor Zoe Terakes, who recently appeared on Hulu's "Nine Perfect Strangers."

Chappelle's remarks and Sarandos' defense of them come amid a precarious time for transgender people in the United States. Dozens of bills targeting transgender people have been introduced in recent months. Some states have attempted to ban transgender youth from accessing gender-affirming care, and in some parts of the country, parents have relocated to states with more friendly attitudes towards their children.

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