Protesters rally at Netflix against Chappelle’s ‘transphobia’ special | Show biz

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A man holds a sign as he attends a rally in support of the walkout of Netflix transgender workers to protest the streaming of comedian Dave Chappelle’s new comedy special in Los Angeles on October 20, 2021. – Photo Reuters

LOS ANGELES, October 21 – Protesters gathered outside Netflix in Los Angeles on Wednesday, angry at a new Dave Chappelle comedy special that has sparked accusations the streamer is trampling on transgender rights and profiting from hate speech.

A few dozen staff members left work and were joined by a similar number of trans activists and their supporters in a protest calling for better representation at the Hollywood giant.

“I think trans and non-binary employees are not safe as long as their employer is releasing content out into the world that could harm them,” said Devan McGrath, Netflix Animation employee, participating in the walkout.

Netflix was quick to respond to the unusually public controversy it faces over Chappelle The closest, in which the stand-up star insists “gender is a fact” and accuses LGBTQ people of being “too sensitive”.

The company released a statement ahead of the protest on Wednesday saying, “We understand the profound harm that has been caused” and “respect the decision of any employee who chooses to step down.”

Rally organizer Ashlee Marie Preston, an LGBTQ activist, said the rally was intended to emphasize more broadly that jokes such as those made by Chappelle were directly damaging to the minority community.

“We’re here today not because we don’t know how to take a joke. We are here because we fear the jokes will take lives. It’s not a matter of laughing, ”she said.

Companies like Netflix “capitalize on the tension” and use “algorithmic science to manipulate and distort our perceptions of ourselves and others,” Preston said.

Protesters read a “list of demands” on Wednesday, including for a content warning to be added to The closest, and a greater investment in LGBTQ talent both on screen and within the company.

‘I failed’

The finished row The closest has been running for two weeks, with Chappelle’s comedy special high on Netflix’s list of most watched titles.

While LGBTQ groups cited studies linking on-screen stereotypes to real-world prejudices, Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos wrote in a leaked memo to staff last week that “the content at the screen does not translate directly into real-world prejudice, ”and stressed the importance of upholding“ artistic freedom ”.

But the co-CEO gave interviews to several Hollywood trade publications on Tuesday in which he admitted, “I fucked up.”

“First and foremost, I should have recognized in these emails that a group of our employees were suffering and really felt hurt by a business decision we made,” he said. Hollywood journalist.

While agreeing that “on-screen content can have real-world impact, both positive and negative,” Sarandos reiterated his belief that the Chappelle stand-up should not be deleted or have a warning added.

“This group of employees felt a bit betrayed because we created such a great place to work that they forgot that sometimes these challenges will arise,” said Sarandos.

The majority of Netflix staff at Wednesday’s protest did not speak to reporters, although McGrath said management’s response had been “frustratingly slow.

“Pain and pain”

The walkout and rally drew support from film and TV celebrities such as Jameela Jamil (The right place) and Jonathan Van Ness (Queer Ey“), who recorded a video message expressing” love and support “for the movement.

David Huggard – known to Ru Paul Drag Race fans like Eureka O’Hara – attended the rally to highlight “the pain and hurt that comes with living in this world as a non-binary individual”.

“If it encourages hatred and discrimination, you are the direct cause of it,” Huggard said.

“And that goes for anyone in this country, especially people of power in the entertainment industry,” they added.

Chappelle has been accused of making fun of transgender people in the past, but remains extremely popular among his fans.

A small counter-demonstration gathered on Wednesday to support Chappelle, with signs saying “The jokes are funny”.

“This is America. We’re having fun, a bit of freedom of expression, a bit of comedy, right? This is what is important, ”said actor Vito Gesualdi. – AFP


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