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Netflix Employees Plan Walkout Amid Chappelle Controversy

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at October 20, 2021

Topline

Netflix employees will walk out of the company’s Los Angeles office Wednesday morning to protest the decision to release a Dave Chappelle comedy special, The Closer, in which he makes transphobic remarks and jokes.

Key Facts

A Netflix employee group called Trans* plans to rally outside of the office and present Netflix co-Chief Executive Ted Sarandos with a list of demands.

The group wants the company to acknowledge the harm the special and Netflix has caused to the trans community, to set aside a fund to promote and invest in trans and nonbinary talent, and to reform internal processes for preparing to release “potential harmful content,” according to documents reviewed by The Los Angeles Times.

Organizers also are demanding a disclaimer be added to the special saying that it “contains transphobic language, misogyny, homophobia, and hate speech.”

In the special, Chapelle remarks that “gender is a fact” and quips that he identifies as a TERF—short for trans-exclusionary radical feminist.

LGBTQ+ celebrities plan to join the walkout, including Jonathan Van Ness of Queer Eye and Jameela Jamil of Legendary, Variety reports.

A Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to Forbes that the company supports any employee in their decision to walk out, and recognizes “we have much more work to do both within Netflix and in our content.”

Key Background

While Netflix employees were quick to criticize the release of The Closer, Sarandos initially defended the special. In emails to staff earlier this month, Sarandos said the company is committed to creative freedom and believed “content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.” However, in a recent interview, Sarandos said he “screwed up” and failed to recognize “the fact that a group of our employees was really hurting.” Chappelle’s special remains on the streaming service and is currently among the top 10 shows in the U.S.

Crucial Quote

“We shouldn’t have to show up annually to push back against harmful content that negatively impacts vulnerable communities,”walkout organizer Ashlee Marie Preston said in an Instagram post. “Instead, we aim to use this moment to shift the social ecology around what Netflix leadership deems ethical entertainment.”

Tangent

Netflix on Tuesday reported that it earned $1.35 billion on revenue of $7.84 billion in the third quarter. The earnings were bolstered by the success of Squid Game, which is expected to be worth $900 million, according to a report from Bloomberg. Analysts suggest that the show’s success will continue to add to Netflix’s earnings results into the rest of 2021.

Further Reading

Fed Up With Chappelle Fallout, Netflix Employees are Leading a Walkout Today in L.A. (The Los Angeles Times)

Netflix Co-CEO Says He ‘Screwed Up’ When Defending Dave Chappelle Special (The Wall Street Journal)

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