Streaming giants Netflix have been in a heap of trouble ever since they released Dave Chappelle’s new special The Closer. Dave Chappelle’s transphobic and homophobic jokes in that special have been a subject of debate for more than two weeks now and have been the reason for a lot of backlash that the comedian and Netflix are facing online. Recently, dozens of Netflix employees staged a walkout against the CEO of the streaming service for defending Chappelle and firing a transgender employee who wrote a thread criticizing the comedian.
Netflix Employees protest against Dave Chappelle and Netflix for giving him a platform
On Friday, Netflix employees began streaming out of the building in protest of Dave Chappelle’s special The Closer. And the demonstrators were quite emotionally charged, saying that words uttered by such prominent figures do matter. One employee named Bridget Sampson told CNN:
What comedians say in a comedy show does matter and it does have real-world consequences. I didn’t have a problem with most of his humor but to say gender is real and to align with TERFs, (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist) who want to deny the reality and existence of transgender people being the gender that they truly are in their mind and heart is very, very harmful.
Furthermore, another supporter Matthew Brough of the protestors had an issue with Netflix providing Dave Chappelle a platform who according to him harbored resentful feelings for the trans and gay community. Brough said:
Everyone should have a voice, I believe in free speech but I also believe that words are harmful – words can lead to violence. This is not only about people’s feelings getting hurt or political correctness, this is about the threats of violence that people in the trans community face every single day.
Netflix employees are not the only ones protesting. They called on other members of the trans community to join in on their protest. Dave Chappelle’s special comes at a time when anti-transgender legislation was introduced in 33 states and a record number of transgender people were killed. A significant number of those killed were trans women of color.
Netflix CEO Sarandos admits to mishandling the criticism
Although Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos did not address the employee protest directly, he did admit that he “screwed up” his response to the criticism he received for the special. He told Variety:
I screwed up that internal communication. I did that, and I screwed it up in two ways. First and foremost, I should have led with a lot more humanity. Meaning, I had a group of employees who were definitely feeling pain and hurt from a decision we made. And I think that needs to be acknowledged upfront before you get into the nuts and bolts of anything. I didn’t do that. That was uncharacteristic for me, and it was moving fast and we were trying to answer some really specific questions that were floating. We landed with some things that were much more blanket and matter-of-fact that are not at all accurate.
Another breaking point for the protests to occur was when Netflix fired a transgender employee who wrote a thread criticizing Dave Chappelle. The reason they gave was that the employee revealed “confidential, commercially sensitive information” to Bloomberg. Moreover, Netflix also fired three more employees for attending meetings between executives that they weren’t authorized to. However, they then backtracked on the latter decision.
Dave Chappelle still has a few friends
Despite the enormous backlash, Dave Chappelle still had his supporters, one of whom is Joe Rogan. The podcast host vehemently defended Chappelle, whom he is friends with. He said in a recent episode of his podcast:
There’s fun in making fun of each other and we have to accept that. And then I need to know about your real feelings about gay people, your real feelings about trans people, your real feelings about all religions and all races and all ethnicities. But we’ve got to be able to joke around about each other. And if you get down to Dave Chappelle’s real feelings, he’s a lovely person. He’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life. He loves everybody. He’s not a hateful soul, he’s beyond jealous.