Netflix has suspended three workers for crashing a business meeting reserved for its top 500 employees, and the streaming giant insists it had nothing to do with the fact that one of the people who were disciplined is trans and openly criticized Dave Chappelle’s latest special, The Closer.
San Francisco-based senior software engineer Terra Field was among those suspended late last week for her unauthorized attendance at the streamer’s two-day “QBR” business review. She is also trans and one of the many members of the LQBTQ community who felt The Closer was particularly antagonistic and mean-spirited. Others who expressed displeasure with the concert included GLAAD, which suggested that Neflix de-platform Chappelle, and Dear White People showrunner Jaclyn Moore, who cut ties with Netflix in protest.
As Variety reports, Field posted a lengthy critique of The Closer on Twitter last Wednesday, in which she listed trans people who had been murdered and wrote, in part, “Yesterday we launched another Chappelle special where he attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness—all while trying to pit us against other marginalized groups.”
Field continued, “Our existence is ‘funny’ to him—and when we object to his harm, we’re ‘offended’… We aren’t complaining about ‘being offended’ and we don’t have ‘thin skin’… What we object to is the harm that content like this does to the trans community (especially trans people of color) and VERY specifically Black trans women.”
“It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employees for tweeting about this show. Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so,” a Netflix spokesperson told Variety.
In a Friday memo, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos defended the corp’s most valuable comedian.
“Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long standing deal with him,” Sarandos wrote. “His last special Sticks & Stones, also controversial, is our most watched, stickiest and most award winning stand-up special to date. As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom—even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful.”
Although it’s nothing new for Chappelle’s Netflix specials to spark controversy, he did address—sort of—the latest blowback at a star-studded Hollywood Bowl show last week, telling the crowd, “If this is what being canceled is like, I love it.”
Field did not respond to a request for comment from Variety.
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