Protesters rally at Netflix against Dave Chappelle’s trans comments stand-up special
Protesters gathered outside Netflix in Los Angeles on Wednesday, October 20, angry at a new Dave Chappelle comedy special that has sparked accusations that the streamer is trampling on transgender rights and profiting from hate speech.
A few dozen staff members left work and were joined by a similar number of trans activists and their supporters in a protest calling for better representation at the Hollywood giant.
“I think trans and non-binary employees are not safe as long as their employer is releasing content out into the world that could harm them,” said Devan McGrath, Netflix Animation employee, participating in the walkout.
Netflix was quick to respond to the unusually public controversy it faces over Chappelle’s The Closer, in which the stand-up star insists “gender is a fact” and blames LGBTQ people to be “too sensitive”.
The company released a statement ahead of the protest on Wednesday saying, “We understand the profound harm that has been caused” and “respect the decision of any employee who chooses to step down.”
Rally organizer Ashlee Marie Preston, an LGBTQ activist, said the rally was intended to emphasize more broadly that jokes such as those made by Chappelle were directly damaging to the minority community.
“We’re here today not because we don’t know how to take a joke. We’re here because we fear the jokes will take lives. It’s not about laughing,” he said. she declared.
Companies like Netflix “capitalize on the tension” and use “algorithmic science to manipulate and distort our perceptions of ourselves and others,” Preston said.
Protesters on Wednesday read a “list of demands,” including a warning of content to be added to The Closer, and greater investment in LGBTQ talent both on screen and within the company.
The argument over The Closer has been going on for two weeks, with Chappelle’s comedy special high on Netflix’s list of most watched titles.
While LGBTQ groups cited studies linking on-screen stereotypes to real-world prejudices, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos wrote in a leaked memo to staff last week that “the content at the screen does not translate directly into real-world prejudice, ”and stressed the importance of upholding“ artistic freedom ”.
But the co-CEO gave interviews on Tuesday to several Hollywood trade publications in which he admitted: “I fucked up.”
“First and foremost, I should have recognized in these emails that a group of our employees were suffering and they felt really hurt by a business decision we made,” he told the Hollywood Reporter.