Netflix employees protesting Dave Chappelle’s anti-transgender remarks walked out Wednesday. They were joined by their allies, who chanted “Trans lives Matter” and received pushback from counterprotesters.
About 100 people attended a pre-noon rally held at a Netflix studio-office complex. Most were on the side with an estimated 30 employees of the streaming giant who joined the event. Some people were willing to identify as Netflix employees but none of them gave their names.
Joey Soloway (creator of the Emmy-winning comedy “Transparent”) was one of the speakers at this rally.
They said that Chappelle’s decision “to share his outrage as comedic humiliation before thousands of people and then broadcast it to hundreds of million of people is infinitely amplified Gender Violence.”
The writer-director stated, “I want trans representation in the Netflix board, this week.”
Ashlee Marie Preston, activist and organizer of the event, addressed the crowd and spoke to The Associated Press afterwards. She stated that calling out Chappelle’s remarks was not enough.
Preston stated that it was important to focus on the people who sign the checks. “Dave Chappelle doesn’t sign checks, Netflix does,” Preston said. “If companies like Netflix don’t listen to their employees and force their employees to take part in oppression, it’s unacceptable.
“We are here to hold people accountable. She said that they are not moving anywhere and that there are ongoing efforts to establish a dialogue with Netflix executives.
Although there was some pushing and shoving between the demonstrators, the conflict was mostly a war of words.
Leia Figueroa is a Los Angeles student who doesn’t work for Netflix, but she said that she would support the walkout. She said that while the streaming service is positive for the LGBTQ community, it also offers a show like Chappelle’s, which includes demeaning comments about trans women.
Figueroa stated that Netflix should aim to be an “apolitical platform”. They’re saying things such as “Black lives matter” and “We don’t support transphobia.” Figueroa said.
A protestor shouted at her, “We like jokes!”
Figueroa responded, “I like funny jokes and transphobia isn’t a joke.”
Former journalist Belissa Cohen said that she was available to support Netflix’s decision to not pull the special.
Cohen stated, “We want to demonstrate that there isn’t unanimous support for transgender ideology when referring to Netflix viewers.”
She was one of about 12 people carrying placards that read “Free speech is a human right” and Truth is not transphobic. Opposite her were signs that said “Black Trans Lives Matter” or “Transphobia Is Not Funny.”
Elliot Page stars in Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy” as a transgender actor. He tweeted that he supports the transgender, nonbinary, and people of colour working at Netflix, who “fight for more and better trans stories, and a more inclusive workplace.”
Team Trans (asterisk), which claims to be supporting “trans people working for Netflix trying to create a better community,” published what it called “a list of questions” being asked of Netflix by trans workers and their allies.
They want the company to “repair its relationships with employees and the public” by implementing changes such as the hiring of trans executives, increased spending on trans- and nonbinary creators, and projects.
Another demand is “Harm Reduction”, which, according to the list, includes acknowledgement of Netflix’s “responsibility” for transphobic content and specifically harm to the Black trans community.
It called for disclaimers that would flag content that contains “transphobic language,” misogyny and homophobia, as well as hate speech.
GLAAD, a media watchdog, said that it salutes Netflix’s employees and allies, as well as LGBTQ and Black advocates, and “calls for accountability and changes within Netflix and the entertainment industry in general.”
Employees who marched out in uniform referred reporters to GLAAD statements.
Netflix was criticized for its special, but also for how it handled employee concerns. Ted Sarandos, co-CEO of Netflix, stated that “content onscreen doesn’t directly translate into real-world harm.”
Sarandos stated that Netflix does not allow titles “designed to incite hatred or violence”, and that ‘The Closer’ doesn’t cross that line.
Sarandos stated Tuesday that he did not recognize that “a number of our employees was really suffering,” according to The Wall Street Journal. He also said that his comments about TV’s effect on viewers were a simplified version.
Terra Field, who identified herself as a senior Netflix software engineer and transgender on Twitter, wrote tweets criticizing Chappelle’s special right after it aired. The comments were widely shared.
Field stated that the comic was being criticised not for his offensive remarks but because of the harm they do the trans community, particularly Black women. Field provided a list of trans- and nonbinary women and men of color she claimed had been murdered, and said that each victim was not offended.