Netflix is facing considering backlash following their continued support of self-proclaimed TERF supporter and comedian Dave Chappelle, whose Transphobic comedy special has not and will not be removed from the streaming platform.
In response to the ongoing criticism Ted Sarandos, co-CEO of Netflix, sent out a company-wide memo to advise staff on how they should proceed. The memo clearly rejects the idea of removing the controversial special, The Closer, citing the popularity of the comedian and their “long standing deal with him”.
Hmmm…..Netflix CEO argues that Chappelle’s new special, criticized as transphobic, is too popular to cancel https://t.co/1fFTO23Hoc #DaveChappelle pic.twitter.com/ttQbxqwKVH
— Roger Hyttinen ? (@rogerhyttinen) October 13, 2021
As reported by Variety, the memo goes on to say:
“[Chappelle’s] last special Sticks & Stones, also controversial, is our most watched, stickiest and most award winning stand-up special to date.
“As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom — even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful.
“Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate. We don’t allow titles Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line. I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean-spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”
Several public figures have been quick to respond to this latest decision by Netflix, with many vowing to sever ties with the streaming platform.
Showrunner of Dear White People, Transwoman Jaclyn Moore, took to Twitter saying, “I love so many of the people I’ve worked with at Netflix. Brilliant people and executives who have been collaborative and fought for important art… But I’ve been thrown against walls because, ‘I’m not a ‘real’ woman.’ I’ve had beer bottles thrown at me. So, [Netflix], I’m done.”
I love so many of the people I've worked with at Netflix. Brilliant people and executives who have been collaborative and fought for important art… But I've been thrown against walls because, "I'm not a 'real' woman." I've had beer bottles thrown at me. So, @Netflix, I'm done. https://t.co/2naqrzW0G2
— Jaclyn Moore (@JaclynPMoore) October 7, 2021
Queer icon Jonathan Van Ness, who starred in content featured on Netflix such as Queer Eye, also made a statement on Twitter.
“The violence and harm perpetuated against Trans, NB & Intersex folks is relentless and people pay with their lives, their livelihoods, and we’re sick of it. It breaks my heart that such important people and platforms continue to ignore that.”
The violence and harm perpetuated against Trans, NB & Intersex folks is relentless and people pay with their lives, their livelihoods, and we’re sick of it. It breaks my heart that such important people and platforms continue to ignore that.
— Jonathan Van Ness (@jvn) October 11, 2021
GLAAD also responded, pointing out that Netflix’s decision to provide Chappelle with a platform for Transphobic content, directly contradicts their policies on hate speech.
“Netflix has a policy that content ‘designed to incite hate or violence’ is not allowed on the platform, but we all know that anti-LGBTQ content does exactly that,” their statement read.
“While Netflix is home to groundbreaking LGBTQ stories, now is the time for Netflix execs to listen to LGBTQ employees, industry leaders, and audiences and commit to living up to their own standards.”
We stand with the trans employees, Black LGBTQ employees, and everyone at @Netflix supporting them, speaking out, and calling for change. https://t.co/eeC9LMKMac
— GLAAD (@glaad) October 13, 2021
Notably, a Trans staffer for Netflix was suspended following the Chappelle controversy, alongside two of her colleagues.
Terra Field, senior software engineer, attended the company’s quarterly business review with her colleagues to raise their concerns about Chappelle’s content, and their presence at this meeting prompted their suspension.
The three have been investigated for attending the exec meeting without an invitation… except that, according to an email sent to Terra officially lifting her suspension, they did have an invitation.
The email correspondence describes the results of the investigation into Terra, declaring that they “did not find that [she] joined the QBR meeting with any ill intent”.
But it goes on to include the line “Additionally when a Director shared the link it further supported that this was a meeting that [she] could attend.”
Netflix has reinstated me after finding that there was no ill-intent in my attending the QBR meeting. I've included the statement I requested below.
I'm going to take a few days off to decompress and try to figure out where I'm at. At the very least, I feel vindicated. pic.twitter.com/lYxemYgRkJ
— Terra Field (@RainofTerra) October 13, 2021
So, in the last week, Netflix have given platform to a Transphobic comedy special, committed to giving Chappelle space on their streaming service and suspended a Trans staffer and allies for attending a virtual meeting for which a link had been shared with them.
In the case of Dave Chappelle versus the Trans community, Netflix have made it very clear where their loyalties lie.
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