By Mark Layton
Around 100 people have held a protest outside Netflix’s LA headquarters as the backlash mounts to Dave Chapelle’s comedy special The Closer, which has been blasted as transphobic.
Netflix staff, joined by transgender rights activists, staged the walkout outside the streamer’s Sunset Boulevard offices yesterday, with demonstrators calling on the SVOD giant to support more transgender and non-binary talent.
Speaking to the AFP news agency, protest organiser and journalist Ashlee Marie Preston said: “We are here today not because we don’t know how to take a joke. We’re here because we’re concerned that the jokes are taking lives.”
The streamer has come under fire since releasing The Closer, in which US comedian Chapelle says that “gender is fact”, among other comments seen as transphobic. Chapelle has attempted to brush off the furore, while Netflix has refused to remove the comedy special from its service.
Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos then initially defended the company’s decision to keep the programme available, claiming it didn’t “directly translate to real-world harm” in a leaked staff memo.
However, he later told US trade Deadline that he had “screwed up” the internal communication and that he had failed to recognise that “a group of our employees was hurting very badly from the decision made.”
The protest has received high-profile support, including from transgender actor Elliot Page, star of Netflix series The Umbrella Academy, who tweeted that: “I stand with trans, nonbinary, and BIPOC employees at Netflix fighting for more and better trans stories and a more inclusive workplace.”