Netflix employees in Hollywood staged a walkout and protest in response to transgender jokes made by Dave Chappelle in his latest stand-up special.
Holding signs that read “Black Trans Lives Matter” and “Hate isn’t funny,” dozens of protesters stood outside the Netflix office on Sunset Blvd, Wednesday.
The Netflix special titled “The Closer,” was received with mixed reactions and criticism for jokes directed at the transgender community.
The employees deployed a list of demands before the protest, including the creation of funds for what they described as above-the-line (ATL) and below-the-line (BTL) talent, as well as a “creative equity fund.”
Additional demands included more content from transgender creators, the hiring of transgender people for leadership roles and acknowledgment from Netflix that harm was done by “transphobic content, and in particular harm to the Black trans community.”
According to The Verge, the organizer of the protest, B. Pagels-Minor, was terminated by Netflix for allegedly “leaking metrics to the press” related to Chappelle’s stand-up special.
Pagels-Minor later told NPR that they collected the data, but did not leak it, adding, “It was just like, ‘Hey, you’re the person. You’re gone.'”
In his special, Chappelle spoke about his back-and-forth battles with the transgender community, telling a story about his relationship with a transgender comedian named Daphne Dorman and their death shortly after they supported Chappelle’s transgender-related jokes.
“Punching down requires you to consider yourself superior to another group,” Dorman tweeted weeks before her death by suicide. [Dave Chappelle] doesn’t consider himself better than me in any way. He isn’t punching up or punching down. He’s punching lines. That’s his job and he’s a master of his craft.”
Before the walkout, Netflix released a statement to NPR, saying, “We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that’s been caused. We respect the decision of any employee who chooses to walk out, and recognize we have much more work to do both within Netflix and in our content.”