Netflix talks a big game about inclusivity, but its actions aren’t backing that up. Right now this centers on Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special The Closer, which contains explicitly transphobic comments and was defended by Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos as being no more harmful than “first-party [sic] shooter games”.
Sarandos has now admitted he “screwed up” the response (it’s first-person shooter games, dummy), but the mood remains mutinous. A trans staff member was suspended (and then reinstated) for speaking out, with another fired for leaking information that showed Chappelle’s special had lost money. Today will see a staff walk-out followed by a rally outside their building, with the protestors intending to deliver a list of requests to Sarandos.
Many prominent Netflix stars have supported the action. Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness and actor Jameela Jamil will reportedly participate in a video directed at Sarandos calling for more inclusionary content on the service. Also set to appear are RuPaul’s Drag Race star Eureka O’Hara and Pose‘s Angelica Ross. Hannah Gadsby of Nanette fame laid bare the anger on the issue on her Instagram page, saying:
“You didn’t pay me nearly enough to deal with the real world consequences of the hate speech dog whistling you refuse to acknowledge, Ted. Fuck you and your amoral algorithm cult…”
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The organizer of the protest, Ashlee Marie Preston, also had scathing remarks to share, stating:
“We shouldn’t have to show up quarterly/annually to push back against harmful content that negatively impacts vulnerable communities. Instead, we aim to use this moment to shift the social ecology around what Netflix leadership deems ethical entertainment, while establishing policies and guidelines that protect employees and consumers, alike.”
The walkout will take place at 10:30am PT this morning outside Netflix‘s offices on Vine Street (it was moved from Sunset Boulevard as too many were planning to attend). Whatever the result is, the pictures of angry staff pushing back against the company for publishing transphobic content are likely to unnerve Netflix investors – particularly as we now know that The Closer seems to have lost money.
All power to those walking out today. Good luck!