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How Netflix is navigating the backlash over Dave Chappelle special

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Marvet Britto, The Britto Agency Founder & CEO, joins Yahoo Finance to discuss the backlash of Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special.

Video Transcript


KARINA MITCHELL: Welcome back to streaming news now. Hundreds of Netflix employees staged a walk out over the streaming platform's controversial special, called "The Closer," by comedian Dave Chappelle. They say it's transphobic. Here to discuss is Marvet Britto, the Britto Agency founder and CEO. Thank you so much for being here. Full disclosure, I haven't watched the show. I'm not sure that I will. They seem to be walking a very fine line however. Some employees say they were suspended after speaking out about this show. Netflix says they did not cross the line. The CEO backtracked on that, saying he messed up. Was that the right response?

MARVET BRITTO: Absolutely it was the right response. In crisis, as a brand strategist and someone who helps brands navigate difficult terrain, particularly crisis, Ted Sarandos did the right thing by taking ownership of what he failed to do initially and what he has now done. This is a very difficult time for Netflix, as we see the world of comedy, which normally was a an art form that in the past was often considered a protective art form. And this content came out and it offended many, particularly those who worked for Netflix.

So for him, he wasn't able to get ahead of it in a proactive way, which would have been best for Netflix. But he did take ownership and he is evolving as this crisis evolves, and is speaking, being proactive, and doing what he needs to do to make sure that he is more sensitive as this crisis continues.

ALEXIS CHRISTOFOROUS: You know, I guess my question is, is that enough? I mean, for a long time, Ted Sarandos has sort of walked on water when it came to picking the right shows to catapult Netflix to being the number one streaming service. And now this. I mean, he admitted he, quote, "I screwed up," when it came to communicating about Dave Chappelle and to its employees. But from a branding standpoint, does Netflix bounce back from this basically unscathed?

MARVET BRITTO: I don't know that they bounce back unscathed. But you are measured by the proactive steps that you take when you are in crisis. And he is accepting and taking ownership for this crisis. Again, comedy used to be a protective art form. But culture is evolving. And as culture evolves, so must your practices of being culturally fluent and making sure that you are proactive and very deliberate and intentional about the ways that you navigate crisis.

I think that Netflix will emerge with key learnings. And those learnings are that they've got a community of passionate employees from the transgender and LGBTQ community that could have been a part of helping them navigate this at the onset in a proactive way if they were included and involved in the conversation. I think that Dave Chappelle with Netflix has a history of having issues with this very community.

So those learnings should have included some of those principles and stakeholders within the community. Some of those passionate voices within the community could have helped to guide Netflix through this very difficult terrain at the onset. Now they're equipped with those learnings, and Ted is being proactive in making sure that there's harmony and cohesion in the voice moving forward.

KARINA MITCHELL: And moving forward, how much more careful do these streaming services and broadcast podcasts, all of those sort of platforms need to be about respecting different viewpoints? Because Netflix is quite diverse, right, in the types of shows that they put out and the people that they sort of focus on. So what's the message moving forward?

MARVET BRITTO: I think that we live in a culture now where content is more readily available than it ever was. Before, previously, you had to choose to either attend a comedy show or go and see a piece of visual art that may not have been to your taste or to your liking. Now streaming services make that content more readily available. So again, as culture evolves, corporations have to evolve as well. The problem is that corporations aren't as culturally fluent as they need to be, because they aren't engaging stakeholders from various marginalized communities, overlooked communities, communities that deal with divisive issues.

They aren't including them in proactive ways, and that must happen moving forward in order to navigate the land mines and trip hazards that organizations will continue to face if they don't do so. We must create inclusion. We must create diversity in our thinking and in our programming that will parallel all of the plight of the people that are the voices that are driving our modern contemporary culture today. Times have changed and corporations must adapt to that change.

KARINA MITCHELL: All right, thank you so much for that insight. We'll see how all of this plays out. Marvet Britto from the Britto Agency, founder and CEO. Thank you so much for your time here.