Netflix is under fire from some fans and even employees over a program they aired this week. The Dave Chappelle special, the final one in his current contract with the streamer, was posted and is drawing significant ire from some folks over comments he made around one group. In the special, The Closer, Chappelle talked at length about the transgender community which sparked significant online outrage towards both Netflix and the comedian. This isn’t the first time Chappelle has spoken about this subject and there are those who say this amounts to Netflix hate speech.
The issue of Netflix hate speech resurfaced for Dave Chappelle when he got on the topic of gender during the special. Again, he has used this as a throughline in specials before on the streamer though showed no signs of pivoting from some of his talking points.
At one point during the special, Chappelle says, “Gender is a fact. Every human being in this room, every human being on earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on earth. That is a fact.” This led to a number of different jokes on the subject, specifically dealing with the bodies of transgender women.
This and other jokes by Chappelle led to significant online backlash around the possibility that this amounted to Netflix hate speech. For starters, a number of different organizations like GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), as well as the National Black Justice Coalition, said this Netflix hate speech was unacceptable. GLAAD didn’t mix words in one of their messages towards the comedian as well as the streamer, saying that Chappelle had consistently shown a willingness to ridicule these groups in his sets.
And there was no shortage of online decries against this Netflix hate speech with many, many folks ringing in to decry the decision by the streamer to air the special. Fans and other talents alike appeared saddened and angry at the messaging sent by Chappelle in the special, especially considering the backlash faced in previous specials. Some of this even came from Netflix employees.
In this thread, @RainofTerra, a software engineer at Netflix, describes the differences in what she sees between making jokes and causing actual harm. In her mind, there is a clear distinction and makes this Netflix hate speech. Others saw it the same way.
And then there was Jaclyn Moore, the showrunner and executive producer of the Netflix show Dear White People who also showed significant disappointment in the streamer’s airing of what she also thought was Netflix hate speech. Moore went as far as to say that she would no longer work with Netflix if this was the kind of thing they put on their platform.
Now, in this day and age, evening something being labeled Netflix hate speech isn’t likely to see a cancellation of someone like Dave Chappelle. The Closer, even with its messages, was wildly popular with fans, sitting at 96% on the Rotten Tomatoes audience meter. Time will tell if Netflix speaks out about the special, especially considering the backlash. And we will also see if they decided to re-up another deal in the future with the comedian.