Transgender rights activists clashed with Dave Chappelle fans and free speech advocates in a tense rally outside the California offices of Netflix on Wednesday, the latest spinoff from the comedian’s controversial special ” The Closer”.
The rally, which gathered around one to two hundred people, began with chants of “Trans Lives Matter” and “Transphobia is not a joke”. But the protesting Netflix employees, who announced their walkout last week, quickly clashed with another contingent chanting “We love jokes”, some carrying signs bearing slogans like “Jokes are funny” and “We love Dave”.
Past the crowd of signs, employees calling themselves “Team Trans” gathered on Vine Street at Netflix’s 600,000-square-foot Hollywood campus where they gave speeches blaming transgender people Chappelle ridiculed, saying that they planned to present content director Ted Sarandos with a “list of demands”.
Ashlee Preston Murray, a black trans woman who organized the rally, kicked off the event, saying she was speaking out because Netflix employees had been ‘gagged’ by ‘superiors’ at the company. She claimed she invited Chappelle to speak but was turned down.
“It’s not an example of a cancel culture because I invited Dave Chappelle to have a dialogue with us,” Murray said. “I’m here today to talk to the people who signed the check.”
Murray and others added that Chappelle’s jokes hurt the trans community and could potentially incite violence.
“When it comes to jokes, no one has access to experiences that don’t belong to them,” Murray said.
Meanwhile, another protester at the event who identified herself as Gigi LaRoux, defended Chappelle and Netflix, according to Variety.
“It comes down to equality, and if people want equality, they have to be put on the same level as everyone else. Comedians are equal opportunity destroyers. You can’t choose who to laugh at. “
In the weeks leading up to Wednesday’s walkout, Netflix faced mounting criticism from celebrities and company employees amid suspensions and statements by the company defending the “creative freedom” of Chappelle.
On the eve of the protest, Sarandos admitted he had “messed up” his response to the fallout.
“What I should have emphasized in those emails was humanity,” Sarandos told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday night. “I should have recognized the fact that a group of our employees were really suffering.”
Earlier Wednesday, Netflix sought to adopt a more conciliatory tone in response to the walkout.
“We appreciate our trans colleagues and allies and understand the deep hurt that has been caused,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement. “We respect the decision of any employee who chooses to leave and recognize that we still have a lot of work to do both within Netflix and in our content.”
Netflix, however, has yet to respond to a list of “Team Trans” walkout demands, which asks the streaming giant to set aside a fund supporting trans and non-binary talent and attach a no-claims clause. responsibility to “The Closer” saying it “contains transphobic language”. , misogyny, homophobia and hate speech,” among other demands.