Netflix's CEO says the platform will not be removing Dave Chappelle's 'The Closer', despite the furore over what some say is transphobia Photo: AFP/File

Netflix defends Chappelle, suspends staff in transgender row


Netflix has defended its decision to screen a Dave Chappelle special criticized as transphobic, as it suspended employees who crashed a virtual meeting in protest at the comedian's show, media reported Monday.

The stand-up star has courted controversy with "The Closer" in which he asserts "gender is a fact," and criticizes what he says is the thin skin of the trans community.

LGBTQ activists have lashed out over the comments, with the National Black Justice Coalition calling on streaming service Netflix to remove the program, and "Dear White People" producer Jaclyn Moore vowing to boycott the platform over "dangerously transphobic content."

But in a memo to staff, Netflix chief executive Ted Sarandos said bosses did not believe that Chappelle's work amounted to "hate," and that the company would not be removing the show despite pressure from artists, according to Variety, which obtained a copy of the memo.

"Some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do," Sarandos wrote, adding Chappelle is one of the most popular performers working today.

"We don't allow titles (on) Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don't believe 'The Closer' crosses that line. I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries."

Variety also reported that three employees who crashed a virtual meeting for executives in protest at "The Closer" had been suspended.

The outlet said they included Terra Field, a software engineer who identifies as queer and trans, and who launched a Twitter broadside last week over Chappelle's routine.

"I work at @netflix," Field tweeted.

"Yesterday we launched another Chappelle special where he attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness -- all while trying to pit us against other marginalized groups."

Variety cited people familiar with Netflix as saying the three were suspended not for speaking out, but for attending the virtual meeting uninvited.

Chappelle, 48, has been accused of transphobia over previous Netflix specials.

In "The Closer" he is at pains to stress that he does not hate transgender people, and tells a long anecdote about a trans woman comic, who he describes as a friend, who came to his defense in earlier entanglements with the community.

Last week as the controversy raged, the comic received a standing ovation at a sold out event at the Hollywood Bowl, telling the audience: "If this is what being canceled is like, I love it."

© 2021 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

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I guess we have to know what he’s actually saying in the show before rushing in to judge him. The reaction so far, though, tends to support Dave’s claim about some people being thin-skinned.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Lol. Watched it. Chappelle is awesome. And...he clearly states that his issue isn't with the trans community... it's with white people!

4 ( +7 / -3 )

BigYenToday  07:16 am JST

yes.... exactly!

in all meeja reports on people being: transphobic, racist, sexist, ableist, and etc and etc, the words or behaviour in question are never stated.... impossible to make up one's own mind (not that what we might think about anything changes anything)... anyway, impossible to know what's really going on amidst the swamp of 'global gossip' that passes for news.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

What a sensitivity! I am against any form of racism, but when you need to calm down, you need to calm down. Reactions of the LGBT activists and "cancel culture" is no different than other form of extremism.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Go Dave! About time someone started calling this ludicrousness out!

4 ( +9 / -5 )

As the GOAT said, the alphabet people need to stop punching down.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

People who are complaining about it haven't watched the whole thing. Selective listening doesn't help their cause. Neither does selective reasoning.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Yes, Chappelle takes on the leftist cancel culture.

Who respond by saying there is no such thing but then proceed to try to cancel him.

3 ( +10 / -7 )

Definitely, not MY culture, here.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Diversity should include a diversity of opinions, including unpopular ones.

There is no place for censorship in the arts. If you don't agree with something, critique it in a reasoned manner or avoid it. The right to offend people with a dissenting opinion is fundamental to the arts, science, democracy and civil society. Cancel culture is as bad as fascism. Left wing censorship is as bad as right wing censorship.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

The right to offend people with a dissenting opinion is fundamental to the arts, science, democracy and civil society.

I mean yes, you have the right to offend people...but you don't get immunity from repercussions of what you said. Free speech protects you from government censorship, not private. If people who are offended want to push back against that opinion they should be able to as well.

That's what happened here, and ultimately Netflix made the decision to keep things as they are. Which is their right, whether I agree or not.

I think Netflix is just fanning the flames by suspending employees who protested it though. The smarter move would have just been to let them have their say and move on. Creating martyrs for a movement is never a good idea if you are trying to get past a controversy as soon as possible. Now they just drew that much more attention to it.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Was wondering when JT would get to this story.It's been blowing up from last week.I watched The Closer on Saturday and loved it.People are just too damn sensitive and forget that he's a comedian by trade.If you don't like it,change the channel.People too often getting all up in their feelings when there's much worse going on.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

When you demonstrate that you are perfectly willing to walk away from $50 million and take a hike for 8 years to come back as popularity as ever, you are essentially unconcealable.

And one can be for the rights of people to identify as whomever they want to be while still stating that gender is defined.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

The best part of Chappelle's argument, he proves his argument if those against his ideals are successful in removing his standup show.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

JohnSmithToday 07:42 am JST

he clearly states that his issue isn't with the trans community... it's with white people!

Oh, so we're alright.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Chappelle is like a bottle of wine, he gets funnier as time goes on. I am so glad he said what he said, I think you should be able to joke about anything, and if people don't like it don't watch. Just because someone makes a joke doesn't their hearts always reflect on what they say or believe, we need to be able to laugh and recently this admin. doesn't even allow basic fun. I get it if Dave were serious in his jokes, but this constant war on speech has got to stop, and good on him for just NOT taking it and giving the finger to Hollywood and every other politically correct person out there. The more these people attack him, the more it elevates him and people become even more curious as to what this man is thinking and saying.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Please stop saying "You can't joke about anything anymore". You can. You can joke about whatever the folk you like. And some people won't like it and they will tell you they don't like it. And then it's up to you whether you give a folk or not. And so on. It's a good system.

Ricky Gervais


2 ( +2 / -0 )'s with white people!

My wife said as we were watching, that he was going in hard on poor white people.But it wasn't so mean-spirited because the audience in Detroit all laughed.Except for two older,heavy set white woman sitting in the third row, with one looking decidely miserable.Had to have been a plant because they brought the negative energy something fierce.*
0 ( +0 / -0 )


Chappelle is like a bottle of wine, he gets funnier as time goes on.

Yeah, his criticisms of that lying, thin-skinned fat guy are always great! Don't you agree?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Yeah, his criticisms of that lying, thin-skinned fat guy are always great! Don't you agree?

Barely, he doesn't really touch or dwell on that topic too much, less than 3 min. But the other jokes and statements he made pertaining to this issue, are just off the charts hilarious!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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