Netflix staff join protests outside its headquarters over controversial stand-up show by Dave Chappelle and Transgender rights
A staged walkout has been held by staff of Netflix Headquarters, Hollywood, protesting the release of Dave Chappelle’s new stand-up special, The Closer. The comedian’s controversial jokes have landed him in hot water with members of the public accusing Chappelle of making anti-transgender comments.
Despite the backlash it has received from the transgender community, reportedly within and outside the company, Netflix has refused to remove the special. Staff’s planned walkout joined in to take part in a rally outside the building in one of the main campuses in Hollywood.
Reports of minor disturbances reportedly had taken place at the rally between protestors, and counter- protestors carrying signs reading “We like Dave” and “Jokes are funny”. Calls have been made for the streaming giant to hire more trans executives and greater spending on trans and non-binary content as protestors chanted “Trans Lives Matter”.
Protest organiser Ashlee Marie Preston told the rally that they were there “to speak directly to Netflix. We tried to speak to Dave Chappelle, but he was not having the conversation so we're communicating directly with the people who sign the cheques. We're not going away.”
On top of the criticism received for airing Chappelle’s special, Netflix is now under pressure for its handling of the matter. Chief executive Ted Sarandos has walked back his claim that content didn't “directly translate to real-world harm”.
Speaking to Deadline, Sarandos said he “should have made sure to recognise that a group of employees was hurting very badly from the decision made. I respect them deeply and I love the contribution they have at Netflix.”
However, the chief executive stands by the decision to stream the special, telling the Hollywood Reporter that they tell “employees that some of the content on Netflix you're not going to like. This kind of commitment to artistic expression and free artistic expression is sometimes in conflict with people feeling protected and safe. I do think that's something we struggle with all the time.”
Star of the Netflix hit, The Umbrella Academy’s Elliot Page expressed her support in the walkout by tweeting that she stands “with trans, nonbinary, and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) employees at Netflix fighting for more and better trans stories and a more inclusive workplace.”
Heading to see the comedian in London, Chappelle fans outside the venue told reporters they believe entertainers must be more conscious of how their words affect people.
“We as a society shouldn't be marginalising or prejudicing any community,” said one, while another added: “A joke's a joke. It's not meaning anything to hurt someone's feelings.”