*A rep for Dave Chappelle says the comedian is open to a dialogue with transgender employees at Netflix amid criticism over his new special that is streaming on the platform.
“Dave stands by his Art. Both sides of the street are talking and Dave is listening. At some point, when everyone is open, I’m sure our communities will come together,” says a rep for Chappelle.
Transgender activist Ashlee Marie Preston, who organized the employee walk-out and protest Wednesday at Netflix, has accused Dave of refusing to take accountability for his transphobic jokes in his new stand-up special “The Closer”.
“Dave Chappelle was not ‘canceled.’ He’s been invited to the table for transformative dialogue but won’t show up,” Preston wrote last week on Twitter. “That’s not ‘cancel culture,’ but an avoidance of accountability. He’s no victim. The man is worth $50M. Unlike many trans people his comedy stigmatizes— he’ll live.”
In a company memo sent to staffers last week, Ted Sarandos, co-CEO at Netflix, said “The Closer” isn’t “designed to incite hate or violence” and noted that “artistic freedom” is measured differently in stand-up comedy, as reported by Complex.
“Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate,” Sarandos wrote in the memo, which you can read in full here. “We don’t allow titles Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line. I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean-spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”
We previously reported that the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) has called on Netflix to remove “The Closer” amid backlash over Chappelle’s jokes about the transgender community. The NBJC is an American civil rights organization serving primarily lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
In Netflix’s “The Closer,” Chappelle takes aim at the trans community, which triggered strong reactions on Twitter.
“Gender is a fact. Every human being in this room, every human being on earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on earth. That is a fact,” Chappelle says in “The Closer.”
“Now, I am not saying that to say trans women aren’t women, I am just saying that those p—ies that they got… you know what I mean? I’m not saying it’s not p—y, but it’s Beyond P—y or Impossible P—y. It tastes like p—y, but that’s not quite what it is, is it? That’s not blood,” he says. “That’s beet juice.”
“It is deeply disappointing that Netflix allowed Dave Chappelle’s lazy and hostile transphobia and homophobia to air on its platform,” NBJC executive director David Johns said in a statement. “With 2021 on track to be the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the United States — the majority of whom are Black transgender people — Netflix should know better. Perpetuating transphobia perpetuates violence. Netflix should immediately pull The Closer from its platform and directly apologize to the transgender community.”
“Dave Chappelle’s brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized communities,” GLAAD tweeted. “Negative reviews and viewers loudly condemning his latest special is a message to the industry that audiences don’t support platforming anti-LGBTQ diatribes. We agree.”
Sarandos noted in the memo that the platform is not going to remove Chappelle’s controversial new stand-up special.