Netflix employees staged a walkout on Wednesday to protest comedian Dave Chappelle’s new comedy special, which they say contains harmful language that ridicules transgender people. Many joined in support outside the company’s Los Angeles headquarters.
WOMAN: “We have an 8-year-old boy who’s trans.”
MAN: “I think Dave Chappelle, funny person, needs to understand a little more about the jokes he’s making and how they can affect people.”
The controversy over his special “The Closer”, released October 5th, has been brewing for weeks.
Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos stoked further backlash with an Oct. 11 staff memo in which he acknowledged Chappelle’s provocative language but said (quote), “We have a strong belief that content on screen doesn’t translate to real-world harm.”
Sarandos in an interview Tuesday with Variety acknowledged he (quote) "screwed up" by not being more sensitive to employees who were hurt by his decision to keep the show on the platform.
While such demonstrations have become commonplace at Silicon Valley companies like Facebook and Google, this is believed to be a first for Netflix.
Things got a bit heated with some counter-protestors also on hand.
COUNTER-PROTESTER: “I’m just trying to talk about free speech and how I like comedy. They really don’t like that.”
Hours before the walkout on Wednesday, a Netflix spokesman said in a statement: "We respect the decision of any employee who chooses to walk out, and recognize we have much more work to do both within Netflix and in our content."