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Netflix released Dave Chappelle’s new special called “The Closer” on Oct 5, 2021. Weeks later, a protest and an employee walkout followed.
Like Chappelle’s specials before it; “The Closer” is causing controversy for jokes about the LGBTQ community, particularly Chappelle’s remarks on the transgender community. The special is bringing up more divisions among comedy fans, debating on where the line is for comedy and how far a stand-up comic can go. One side is all for jokes so long as they remain funny.
The other side does not see humor in every topic. In this case, it is joking about transgender people. Some people criticized the show for its offensive nature and promoting bigotry against those people. The critics are even within Netflix, resulting in a split within the company.
Employee Response to the Show
Following the release of the Chappelle’s special, some Netflix employees voiced dissatisfaction with what they saw as the company’s policy of platforming transphobic speech. A virtual walkout was organized in part by Ashlee Marie Preston. Preston was seen in “Disclosure,” a documentary about Hollywood’s impact on the transgender community.
The employees gathered outside the company office building in Los Angeles, chanting “Team trans!,” the New York Times reported. Some signs read “Hey Netflix: Do Better” and “Transphobia Is Not a Joke.”
They were joined by other protesters who started showing up hours before the demonstration was in full swing. #NetflixWalkOut was also trending this past Wednesday on Twitter. According to the New York Times, some staffers working remotely took the day off at around noon the same day.
Throughout all the criticism there was some support for Chappelle. A small group of counter-protesters was also present at the rally. They carried their own signs reading “Jokes Are Funny” and “Netflix, Don’t Cancel Free Speech.” Netflix has seemingly put out a mixed stance coming from the executive side.
The company supported the walkout in a statement but has continued to stand by Chappelle and keep the special on its streaming service. Chappelle himself has not put out a formal statement. However, Deadline reports that according to his representatives, he is willing to sit down with the angered Netflix employees and discuss their issues with his jokes.
Written by Chiagozie Onyewuchi
Edited by Sheena Robertson
The New York Times: Netflix employees walk out to protest Dave Chappelle’s special; by John Koblin and Nicole Sperling
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of John Bauld’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inset Image Courtesy of Gilbert Sopakuwa’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License