Netflix Employees are Planning a Walkout Over Dave Chappelle’s Latest Special

Dimas Sanfiorenzo Dimas Sanfiorenzo is the Managing Editor for Okayplayer. He specializes…
dave chappelle
Photo Credit: Mathieu Bitton/Netflix

Netflix employees are upset about the trans jokes featured on The Closer, the latest comedy special from Dave Chappelle.

Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix special, The Closer, is causing internal strife inside the company. 

According to Bloomberg, a number of employees working for Netflix warned executives about the transgender jokes featured in the special. Global head of TV Bela Bajaria and co-Chief Executive Officer Ted Sarandos decided to go through with the special and the outcry has been fierce. 

And now, on October 20th, employees are expected to walk out in protest. According to the LA Times, a Netflix employee posted in Slack a message encouraging trans employees to take a “day of rest” in protest of the special and how management handled the blowback. 

“I encourage all [members of] Trans* and allies not to work for Netflix that day… As we’ve discussed through Slack, email, texts and everything in between, our leadership has shown us that they do not uphold the values for which we are held… Between the numerous emails and non-answers that have been given, we have been told explicitly that we somehow cannot understand the nuance of certain content. I don’t know about you, but asking for us to show the whole story and not just the pieces that harm trans and [LGBTQ+] people is not an unreasonable ask.”

According to Bloomberg, a 1,000 people within Netflix have sent messages to the company about the special.

It has been a turbulent couple of weeks for Netflix. Other than Squid Game, The Closer, which dropped on October 5th, is the most talked about property on Netflix right now. The special includes an extended monologue talking about his relationship with the trans community and the fallout around Sticks & Stones, his last Netflix special. In The Closer, Dave Chappelle says he is Team TERF — trans-exclusionary radical feminist — and says “gender is a fact.” 

Last week, three members of the company’s staff were suspended after crashing  a virtual meeting with VPs, shareholders, and directors at Netflix. One of those employees, Terra Field, was an outspoken critic of the special on Twitter. Field, who identifies as trans and queer, and the other two employees, were all suspended for attending without informing the meeting organizer. A Netflix rep claimed the company’s action against its employees was due to their attendance at the meeting and not for being critical of Netflix and Chappelle’s special. “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.”

On Tuesday, Field was reinstated. She announced the news on her Twitter, saying she feels “vindicated.”

“Now Netflix has reinstated me after finding there was no ill-intent in my attending the (Quarterly Business Review) meeting… I’m going to take a few days off to decompress and try to figure out where I’m at. At the very least, I feel vindicated.”

Netflix is standing by Dave Chappelle. Last week Sarandos issued an internal memo saying, “We don’t allow titles Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line.” While Co-CEO Reed Hastings wrote, in an internal message board, that he wants to continue working with Chappelle.

“We see him as a unique voice, but can understand if you or others never want to watch his shows.”

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