Some Netflix employees walked out Wednesday in protest of the latest comedy special from Dave Chappelle, The Closer, which features jokes about transgender people. They and allies rallied and chanted, “Trans lives matter.”
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They were joined by influential entertainment industry figures.
Writer and director Joey Soloway called for trans representation on Netflix’s board while activist and organizer Ashlee Marie Preston addressed rallygoers and spoke to the press.
There were also counter-protesters on hand who were there in support of Netflix’s decision not to pull the special.
Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said this week that he “screwed up” communicating with his staff after they expressed displeasure with the special, but he also stood by the streaming giant’s decision not to remove the program from its lineup.
“Obviously, I screwed up that internal communication,” he told Variety. “First and foremost, I should have led with a lot more humanity. Meaning, I had a group of employees who were definitely feeling pain and hurt from a decision we made. And I think that needs to be acknowledged up front before you get into the nuts and bolts of anything.”
Chappelle’s newest special has been criticized for its numerous jokes about transgender individuals and the LGBTQ+ community.
Advocates have called the special transphobic, but Sarandos told his employees when the backlash began that the company would never platform programs “that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line.”