Dave Chappelle is no stranger to controversy due to his use of “shock” humor around topics that are not the most affable to the general public. His stand-up routines have caused repercussions against his public image. The comedian in question, who has fanned the flames around his even more polarizing Netflix specials, caused an upset within the LGBTQIA+ community after taking aim at transgender individuals through his jokes. The punchlines did not fare well in Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix comedy feature, The Closer.
Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos jumped to Dave Chappelle’s defense amid allegations of hate speech against the LGBTQIA+ community during The Closer. The stand-up act honed in on topics such as the “thick skins” of trans people and the aftermath of cancel culture. A mass-person memo written by Sarandos reached 500 Netflix employees to address the ongoing situation concerning Dave Chappelle and his on-stage remarks. “Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long-standing deal with him. His last special Sticks & Stones, also controversial, is our most-watched, stickiest, and most award-winning stand-up special to date,” Sarandos said in the release, obtained by Variety.
Sarandos continued on in Dave Chappelle’s defense throughout his note to the staff: “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,” he said, referring to other Netflix Original programming such as the hotly debated Cuties, which was intended to issue commentary on the “sexualization of children,” while it allegedly promoted lewd imagery of underage children. 13 Reasons Why and My Unorthodox Life were also mentioned by title as Netflix series that contain sensitive content.
GLAAD responded directly to Dave Chappelle and Netflix and rebutted with a claim that anti-LGBTQIA+ content is, in technicality, a violation of Netflix’s own policy. “Netflix has a policy that content ‘designed to incite hate or violence is not allowed on the platform, but we all know that anti-LGBTQ content does exactly that,” the statement reads. “While Netflix is home to groundbreaking LGBTQ stories, now is the time for Netflix execs to listen to LGBTQ employees, industry leaders, and audiences and commit to living up to their own standards.”
In his Netflix special, Dave Chappelle describes himself as “team TERF,” where the acronym of TERF breaks down to trans-exclusionary radical feminist and has been closely associated with Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. Additional jokes about Caitlyn Jenner and other trans individuals have resulted in a massive backlash towards Dave Chappelle from certain people who self-identify as LGBTQIA+. A transgender employee was suspended from Netflix after she had spoken up on the issues that she had taken with the nature of the special.
A transgender resource group has been formed at Netflix with the intention of meeting with Netflix in order to educate executives, such as Sarandos, and inform them about the impact of transphobic content such as the behavior that it is alleged that Dave Chappelle exhibited during The Closer. The idea of being “canceled” doesn’t scare the comedian, who said that he “loves” being canceled in the wake of his extremely harmful and damaging routines. Members of the LGBTQIA+ are subject to abuse, hate, and oppression around sexuality and gender identity, and the alleged transphobia and homophobia from Dave Chappelle can be viewed by some as damaging towards the community’s reputation.
Netflix employees are quitting after Dave Chappelle’s latest special hit the streaming platform, and former employees are criticizing the website’s decision to platform Dave Chappelle’s anti-trans and anti-LGBTQIA+ viewpoints. David Johns, the National Black Justice Coalition’s executive director, joined in on GLAAD and former employees’ pleads to remove the comedy performance from the streaming platform. Johns claimed that 2021 has been the most violent year against Black trans people within the United States, and asked for the world’s largest streaming service to issue an apology statement to the LGBTQIA+ community. Neither Dave Chappelle nor Netflix has responded.