Netflix chastised by protesters for Dave Chappelle's transgender comments


Los Angeles
People attend a rally in support of the Netflix transgender employee walkout ?Stand Up in Solidarity? to protest the streaming of comedian Dave Chappelle?s new comedy special, in Los Angeles, California, U.S. October 20 2021. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

On Wednesday, over a hundred people rallied outside Netflix Inc's offices to protest the streaming giant's decision to air comedian Dave Chappelle's new special, which they claim mocks transgender people.

Netflix employees, transgender rights activists, and government officials congregated on a sidewalk outside a Netflix office in Los Angeles, just a few blocks from the company's main 13-story Sunset Boulevard facility.

Demonstrators carried posters that said "Trans Lives Matter" and "Team Trans" and yelled slogans such as "What do we want?" "When do we want accountability?" Now."

Members of the public outnumbered Netflix employees, but the exact number was not disclosed. Employees at Netflix had called for a walkout.

In interviews before the walkout, Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos admitted, "I screwed up" in how he spoke to Netflix employees regarding Dave Chappelle's special, "The Closer."

Sarandos has defended his choice to run the event, claiming that Chappelle's rhetoric did not incite violence. On Tuesday, Netflix set a new subscription record.

"While we appreciate his acknowledgment of the mistake, we want to actually talk about what that repair looks like," Ashlee Marie Preston, a transgender activist who came out in favor of the Netflix employees, said.

Joey Soloway, the creator of "Transparent," a now-defunct Amazon (AMZN.O) streaming sitcom with a transgender character, discussed the fine line between edgy humor and destructive speech.

"As a comedian, people ask me where the line is," Soloway remarked. "Anything that makes it worse is the line."

That message was not universally embraced. "It's terrifying to think that a small, angry mob can shape entertainment and silence people's speech," counterprotester Dick Masterson said.

Employee protests against corporate policy have grown routine in Silicon Valley, but this is thought to be the first such action at the pioneering streaming video company.

The "Closer" scandal is unfolding against the backdrop of a company-wide diversity initiative that began in 2018, following the firing of Netflix's previous head of communications for using a racial epithet in company meetings.

"It doesn't feel good to have worked at the company that put that out there," Terra Field, a Netflix software developer, said on Medium about "The Closer." "Especially since we've spent years developing the company's policies and benefits to make it a great place to work for trans people."

Publish : 2021-10-21 10:40:00

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