Netflix has garnered significant internal backlash over the past week following the release of stand-up comic Dave Chappelle’s latest special, The Closer, specifically from its LGBTQIA+ employees, as well as trans activists and organisations like GLAAD.
Several of them took to social media to slam the streaming service for hosting the special, with three employees attempting to access a directors meeting they were not invited to in protest. These employees were suspended, though one of them has been reinstated.
Now, the trans employee resource group within the company is planning a walkout on 20 October to protest the special itself and co-CEO Ted Sarandos’ responses to internal backlash.
Netflix angers its own
For context, Chapelle is well known for finding the line between edgy and offensive and then playing jump rope with it. But he’s come under fire for certain jokes regarding marginalised people, in this instance transgender people, going a stretch too far. In The Closer Chappelle doubles down on sensitive jokes he’s made in the past, which has caused significant outcry from without and within Netflix.
Several trans employees took to Twitter to voice their displeasure with the special, and, as mentioned, three even tried to attend a meeting they were not invited to in order to make their concerns heard, for which they were suspended. Terra Field was one of these people, though according to sources close to the matter (via The Verge) she was unaware that she was not invited to the meeting.
Netflix employees have been particularly upset with Sarandos’ handling of their concerns. The co-CEO sent out an internal memo last week bottom-lining that the special would not be removed despite staff and audience criticism. What was more inflammatory was that Sarandos explained that he doesn’t believe Chappelle crossed any lines. In a second memo, Sarandos told Netflix employees should be able to love working for the streaming giant while not loving all of its content. If he thought that would douse any flames, he thought wrong.
“Trans Lives Matter. Trans Rights Matter,” wrote the trans employee resource group in an organisational message regarding the planned walkout. “And as an organization, Netflix has continually failed to show deep care in our mission to Entertain the World by repeatedly releasing content that harms the Trans community and continually failing to create content that represents and uplifts Trans content. We can and must do better!”