There is no end in sight for Netflix Dave Chappelle problem. Days after The closer, his controversial new comedy special, which sparked backlash for jokes directed at the LGBTQ + community, has drawn the company’s response to similar mockery. Netflix has reportedly suspended three employees, including a transgender person, who publicly condemned Chappelle’s special on Twitter, Variety reported Monday.
Sources told the outlet that the trio of employees were suspended not for criticizing the thesis, but “for crashing a meeting between its top executives” late last week. One of the people, according to Variety, is Terra Field, an open trans senior software engineer at Netflix who shared a viral Twitter thread on the dangers of Chappelle’s comments. “What we object to is the harm that content like this does to the trans community (especially trans people of color) and VERY specifically black trans women,” Field wrote.
Netflix sources repeated to Variety that there was no connection between Fields tweets and an apparent suspension. “It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended all employees for tweeting about this show,” a Netflix spokesman said. Variety. “Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so.” (Neither Field nor Netflix responded immediately to requests for comment.)
In a note covering the entire company, retrieved by Variety, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos addressed the dissatisfaction surrounding Chappelle’s jokes – and made it clear that the thesis is not going anywhere. “It never feels good when people hurt, especially our colleagues, so I would give you an extra context,” Sarandos’ note reads. “You also need to be aware that some talents may join third parties to ask us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do.”
The director went on to compare Chappelle’s “controversial” style with other titles that “some people think [are] harmful, ”including Cuties, 13 reasons why, 365 days, and My unorthodox life. Sarandos said Netflix will not broadcast projects “designed to incite hatred or violence, and we do not believe The closer crosses that border. The memo concludes with the conviction that “artistic freedom is, of course, a very different standard of speech than we allow internally, as the goals are different: entertaining people versus maintaining a respectful, productive workplace.”
Last week, several high-profile people and organizations spoke out against Chappelle’s jokes — including Jaclyn Moore, showrunner on Netflix Dear white people, who tweeted that she will cut ties with the company unless something should change. (Both Moore and Field have warned their supporters about online abuse they have faced since speaking out against the Netflix special.) Gender equality groups GLAAD and the National Black Justice Coalition also released statements opposing Chappelle’s special.
Since the reported suspensions and Sarando’s statement, others within the Netflix umbrella have added their voices to the conversation. Jonathan Van Ness, a non-binary cohost of Netflix Queer Eye, tweeted Monday, “The violence and damage perpetuated against Trans, NB and Intersex people is relentless and people are paying with their lives, their livelihoods and we are tired of it. It breaks my heart that such important people and platforms continue to ignore it. ”
Meanwhile, Most tweeted – a verified account labeled “the home of Netflix’s LGBTQ + storytelling” – a message of support for queer and transgender people. “This #coming day and every day we support your right to come out, but when it feels safe and right for you,” reads the tweet. “And that includes using your voice to get out and stand up for your community.”
The man in the middle of this firestorm is apparently reveling in the polarization. Chappelle reportedly won a standing ovation at a recent Hollywood Bowl screening of his upcoming untitled documentary, in which he told the audience: “If that’s the way it is to cancel, I love it.”
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