The head of Netflix is still behind two of the company’s most popular comedians.
In an interview with The New York Times, the streamer’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos defended Dave Chappelle and Ricky Gervais, who have both been criticized for transphobic jokes in their stand-up specials.
The executive said he was surprised by the backlash to Chappelle’s special, but said that he had no problems supporting the comedian.
He explained that in comedians figure out where the line of good taste is by “crossing the line every once in a while. I think it’s very important to the American culture generally to have free expression.”
Sarandos continued, “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.”
He added that backing Chappelle amid the controversy “wasn’t hard in that way. And rarely do you get the opportunity to put your principles to the test. 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.”
Asked how he feels being celebrated by conservatives in the U.S. for his stance on the issue, Sarandos said. “It used to be a very liberal issue, so it’s an interesting time that we live in … I always said if we censor in the U.S., how are we going to defend our content in the Middle East?”
Gervais’ special, which debuted earlier this week on Netflix, has also been criticized for jokes about transgender woman, and Sarandos said that his words about Chappelle apply to “The Office” creator as well.