Dave Chappelle, ‘Squid Game,’ and The Problem of Popularity


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It’s a question that can be asked at any time, but perhaps this week more so for the most part: What happened to Netflix? After months of lost cultural land to rivals as HBO Max and Disney +, the streaming giant now has two shows—Squid game and special comedy by Dave Chappelle, The Closer—Dominance of the zeitgeist. It has to be at the top of the world. Although it will not be able to continue without chaos.

Most of it started last week when the service was launched The Closer. Like previous Chappelle stand-up specials, it was immediately shot up on the streamer’s high chart. As well as some of his past specials, it didn’t come without a blowback – this hour, for the comedian’s lengthy commentary on trans people. (We won’t repeat it here, but suffice it to say that many in the trans community found his comments harmful and destructive.) After the show was launched, many people—including Netflix employees—Requesting the streaming service option to offer the special. In response, the company’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos sent a memo, got by different, to staff who said “you need to be aware that some talent may involve third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we won’t.”

This response isn’t surprising-Netflix has stood by the controversial issue and creators in the past-but what makes Sarandos ’reasoning interesting. “Chappelle is one of the most famous comedians on the stand today, and we have a long -standing relationship with her,” he wrote. “Like our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom – even if it means there’s always content on Netflix that some people believe is harmful.” He quotes movies as Cuties and performances such as 13 Reasons Why for example.

Popularity, of course, is the whole deal of the company. But sometimes it’s special like The Closer that’s popular, and sometimes shows like Squid game, which this week hit 111 million viewers in 17 days, made it “most launch series. “In a, Squid game, is, yes, dark, but also includes fiction-if anything, its dystopian vision is a counter-intuitive escape. The other, Chappelle’s special, is about real people living real life – and it illustrates what can happen in the quest to please the majority. Perhaps, these are some of the worst and worst consequences of finding Netflix to retain as many viewers as possible.

The cause is like a show The Closer can get as much attention as a show would like Squid game it’s simple: People sometimes want the problem to hurt others. Thousands, if not millions, will vote for anti-LGBTQ candidates, and an equal number of them will look at the interior with similar perspectives. (And rejoice in it—The Closer now has a percentage audience score of rotten tomatoes while also holding a 43 percent score from critics.) The problem, then, is not only that Chapelle says she was joking about trans people, but those isolated people (and their friends, family, and allies) are in a position to watch many others laugh at them — and wonder if that laughter comes with empathy or malice. Sarandos isn’t wrong when he says that “distinguishing between commentary and damage is difficult, especially the stand-up comedy that has to push boundaries.” Yet does a situation have to lead to violence to the detriment, or is it enough to contribute to the chorus of anti-trans rhetoric? Regardless, the fact that those statements are more popular remains unmistakable.





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