Chappelle special draws critics, boosters to Netflix walkout

Critics and supporters of Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special that included anti-transgender comments gathered outside the company’s offices Wednesday, with “Trans lives matter” and “Free speech is a right” among their competing messages

Via AP news wire
Wednesday 20 October 2021 21:12
Netflix Chappelle Protest
Netflix Chappelle Protest

Critics and supporters of Dave Chappelle's Netflix special and its anti-transgender comments gathered outside the company's offices Wednesday, with “Trans lives matter” and “Free speech is a right” among their competing messages.

People began gathering in advance of a planned walkout by Netflix employees seeking to highlight their objections to Chappelle's stand-up special “The Closer” and the company's handling of it. By noon, the crowd had swelled to more than 100.

Leia Figueroa, a student from Los Angeles doesn't work at Netflix but said she wanted to back the walkout. While the streaming service offers positive fare for the LGBTQ community, she said, it's having it both ways by also offering a show like Chappelle's that included disparaging comments about trans women.

Bella Cohen, a former journalist, said she was on hand to "support Netflix’s decision not to pull” the special.

Cohen was among about a dozen people who carried placards reading “Free speech is a right” and “Truth is not transphobic." Opposite them were those carrying signs that included “Black Trans Lives Matter” and “Transphobia is not Funny."

Elliot Page, who stars in Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy” and is transgender, tweeted that he stands with the trans, nonbinary and people of color working at Netflix who are “fighting for more and better trans stories and a more inclusive workplace."

Team Trans(asterisk), which identifies itself as supporting “trans people working at Netflix trying to build a better world for our community,” posted what it called a list of “asks” being made of Netflix by trans and nonbinary workers and allies at the company.

They are calling on the company to “repair” its relationships with staff and the audience with changes involving the hiring of trans executives and increased spending on trans and nonbinary creators and projects.

“Harm reduction” is another demand, which according to the list includes acknowledgment of what it called Netflix’s “responsibility for this harm from transphobic content, and in particular harm to the Black trans community.”

It also called for disclaimers to flag content that includes “transphobic language, misogyny, homophobia” and hate speech.

In a statement, the media watchdog group GLAAD said it salutes the Netflix’s employees, allies and LGBTQ and Black advocates “calling for accountability and change within Netflix and in the entertainment industry as a whole.”

Netflix ran into a buzz-saw of criticism not only with the special but in how internal memos responded to employees' concerns, including co-CEO Ted Sarandos assertion that “content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”

Sarandos also wrote that Netflix doesn’t allow titles that are “designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe ‘The Closer’ crosses that line.”

In interviews Tuesday, Sarandos said he failed to recognize that “a group of our employees was really hurting," as he told The Wall Street Journal, and that his comment about the effect of TV on viewers was an oversimplification.

Terra Field, who identifies herself on Twitter as a senior software engineer at Netflix and as trans, posted tweets critical of Chappelle’s special immediately after it aired and the comments were widely shared.

In her posts, Field said that the comic was being criticized not because his remarks are offensive but for the harm they do to the trans community, especially Black women. Field included a list of trans and nonbinary men and women of color who she said had been killed, adding in each case that the victim “is not offended.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in