The #NetflixWalkout took place yesterday, October 20, with hundreds of Netflix staff, supporters and activists rallying at the Netflix office at Vine Street, LA. The protest was moved to this location to better facilitate attendees after the walk-out garnered massive support online.
We’re moving the rally to better accommodate attendees.👥 There will be point people at the other site to redirect people to the other site—which is a 2 minute drive or 6 minute walk away from the original location. We look forward to being in community w/ you. #NetflixWalkout https://t.co/2eiDTGOTwI pic.twitter.com/sWayr8cizF
— Ashlee Marie Preston (@AshleeMPreston) October 19, 2021
Elliot Page, the Umbrella Academy star who came out as Transgender at the end of last year, marched in solidarity with the staffers of Netflix who are fighting for better Trans representation, both in content and management. And Page isn’t the only celebrity to lend their voice to the cause.
Ahead of the #NetflixWalkout march, a video entitled Stand Up in Solidarity with Team Trans* at Netflix! was released on YouTube, featuring a number of powerful voices speaking out in support of the protestors. Those featured include Ashlee Marie Preston, Jonathan Van Ness, Angelica Ross, Jameela Jamil, Mason Alexander Park, Kate Bornstein, Our Lady J, Sara Ramirez, Peppermint and Colton Haynes.
The #NetflixWalkout was organised in part by Ashlee Marie Preston in response to Netflix’s support of Dave Chappelle’s comedy special, The Closer, which features transphobic rhetoric.
Netflix co-CEO, Ted Sarandos, sent a memo to staff which stated that they would not be pulling the special because of a “long-standing deal” with Chappelle and that they do not believe it crosses the line of inciting hate or violence.
Sarandos has since admitted to “screwing up” regarding his communications over the issue.
“I feel I should’ve made sure to recognise that a group of our employees was hurting very badly from the decision made, and I should’ve recognised upfront before going into a rationalisation of anything the pain they were going through,” he said. “I say that because I respect them deeply, and I love the contribution they have at Netflix. They were hurting, and I should’ve recognised that first.”
For folks at home with active Netflix subscriptions asking how they can show solidarity with the #NetflixWalkout, please watch @Disclosure_Doc. It deserves to be seen by more people. https://t.co/pwCKYeIb1y
— Terra Field (@RainofTerra) October 20, 2021
However, he goes on to restate, emphatically, that he stands by the decision to give Chapelle’s special space on the Netflix platform.
“Stand-up comedy is a pretty singular voice art form,” he said. “The comedians will road test the material for some times two years before they record their special so we really don’t get involved and interfere with the material itself, and I think it’s consistent with a brand of stand-up comedy and certainly consistent with Dave Chappelle’s comedy, so I don’t think a warning card or an edit would’ve been appropriate.”
Charmed star, Alyssa Milano, also weighed in on the controversy. According to Fox News, she said, “I think Netflix should pull the special and Dave should actually sit down and have a conversation with people from the community so that they can tell him why they were hurt by it.”
An invitation has in fact been extended to Dave Chappelle for just such a conversation. Preston, the #NetflixWalkout organiser, said “I’ve invited Dave Chappelle to have transformative dialogue with us… it is not of interest [to him].”
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However, Terra Field, a Transwoman and Netflix staffer who was recently suspended and then reinstated in the fallout of the controversy, wrote an article on Medium which states that “It was never about Dave.”
“Dave is not, and has never been, the cause of this problem — he is a symptom of it,” Field writes. “That Dave believes the things he says and can say them with relative impunity is a result of the culture we live in: a culture that marginalizes and devalues Trans people.”
I want to make it clear, this situation isn't about Dave Chapelle, it's about Netflix doing better. Read the list of demands: https://t.co/eijRjdeRC7#Netflix #NetflixWalkout #netflixanimation pic.twitter.com/YiiKQtb7ws
— Elizabeth Salgado (@LiztigressArt) October 20, 2021
While Field’s focus is not on Chappelle himself, but rather the Netflix higher-ups who sign the cheques, Transparent creator Joey Soloway made a passionate statement to The Hollywood Reporter on both the problematic comedian and the streaming service.
“This is gender violence,” he said. “Sharing his outrage as comedic humiliation in front of thousands of people, and then broadcasting it to hundreds of millions of people, is infinitely amplified gender violence. I want Trans representation on the Netflix board. A Trans person on the f****** Netflix board this f****** week.”
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