Dave Chappelle released what may be his last Netflix stand-up comedy special. It was the end of a deal he had with the streaming service, and according to the comedian, he plans to take a step back for a while. However, before he leaves the spotlight, he had a few last things to say, many of them about the LGBTQ community, specifically trans people. These statements have proven divisive and opened up conversations online. One part of that online conversation has been from Terra Field, a senior software engineer at Netflix and a trans woman, according to her Twitter profile. She publicly discussed what her issue was with the Netflix special, why it was more than being offended, and why she feels this piece of media was a dangerous one for Netflix to release. Shortly thereafter, she was suspended.
For their part, Netflix wants to be clear to the public that they did not officially suspend any employee for comments they made on Twitter. In fact, they claim that they want their employees to discuss these topics. In a statement to The Verge, a spokesperson made this very clear.
It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employee for tweeting about this show… Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so.A Netflix Spokesperson in an email to The Verge
While Terra Field was suspended shortly after her Twitter thread went viral, she had also reportedly attempted to attend a director-level meeting at Netflix that she wasn’t invited to. She attempted this with two other employees. It is unclear whether they were also suspended. It wasn’t said whether she attempted to attend this meeting to discuss the Dave Chappelle special or what the other details of this meeting were. What is known is what Netflix’s spokesperson has to say, and that this happened very shortly after her Twitter thread picked up a lot of attention online.
She goes on to tell the stories of 38 trans people who are now dead, to better explain why she does not feel that Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special is “offensive”, but, in her view, a threat to the trans community, specifically the Black trans community.
A lot of the online conversation on news sites, blogs, and especially on Twitter, is boiled down to whether Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special is “dangerous” and even whether it counts as the streaming service airing hate speech. Meanwhile, Chappelle has been defended by some, specifically the sister of the trans friend he mentioned during his special. However, in this particular conversation, the topic is less Chappelle himself, and more centered on Netflix. When they decide to stream a stand-up special that airs these views, what is their responsibility for them? The head of Netflix, Ted Sarandos, has made it clear that he feels it’s important that they don’t stream anything that incites hate or violence. He doesn’t think the Chappelle special does so.
For the comedian’s part, he’s said that he loves being canceled. He isn’t afraid of the controversy. But the controversy is no longer just focused on Dave Chappelle, but Netflix itself. Many of their employees and people who’ve worked with them in the past have said that the special crosses a line. They have quit or sworn never to work with the streaming service again. For now, The Closer remains up and Netflix hasn’t acknowledged a problem with it.