Netflix was thrust into the center of a media storm after its airing of the latest Dave Chappelle special, “The Closer,” as the LGBTQ+ community launched a campaign that Chappelle was anti-trans (a charge that anyone who actually watched the special would dismiss, but whatever).
Employees of Netflix and advocates for the LGBTQ+ community also used the opportunity to give a list of demands to the company. The list, which was first reported by The Verge, included requests to hire trans and nonbinary people to executive positions, create a fund to support trans and nonbinary talent, and add disclaimers to shows “that specifically flag transphobic language, misogyny, homophobia, hate speech, etc. as required.”
All of those seem like normal requests for representation. The disclaimer could be hard to enforce because it is already hard to agree on who would be the judge of what gets labeled and what does not.
What was a bit surprising is that the request did not ask for anything to be removed from the platform — a usual move for those aggrieved — nor did it specifically mention Chappelle, also something that was ‘good’ to see. It truly, simply, asked for the promotion of trans-affirming content alongside any content deemed anti-trans.
Chappelle for his part, set a statement out to TMZ.
“Dave stands by his art: No more jokes about transgenders until we can all laugh together. The streets are talking and Dave is listening. At some point, when everyone is open, I’m sure the communities will come together.”
Also, according to the outlet, the Chappelle camp claims that no one from Netflix has reached out to the comedian nor his team about setting up a meeting … that statement is the opposite of what the woman who organized the Netflix walkout claimed.
Ahead of the employee walkout — which occurred on Wednesday — a Netflix spokesperson issued a statement: “We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that’s been caused. We respect the decision of any employee who chooses to walk out, and recognize we have much more work to do both within Netflix and in our content.”
Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos did not directly address the walkout but in a Wall Street Journal interview he did mostly defend Chappelle, and other artists, “I’m firmly committed to continue to support artistic freedom for the creators who work with Netflix and increase representation behind the screen and on camera.”
I think Chappelle is hilarious and always have. I have watched all of his Netflix episodes and believe that he has taken the time and care to make sure to carefully craft his jokes at the expense of everyone – which is good comedy, in my opinion.
I also think it would be great to see the two come together and sort this out.