LOS ANGELES — Netflix employees who walked out Wednesday to protest Dave Chappelle’s special and its anti-transgender remarks were joined by colleagues who chanted “trans lives matter,” receiving pushback from counterprotesters. Whoever showed up.
Nearly 100 people attended the pre-noon rally at the Netflix office-studio complex, most in favor of the streaming giant’s estimated 30 workers who joined later. Some were willing to identify themselves as employees of Netflix, but all declined to be named.
Joy Soloway, creator of the Emmy-winning comedy “Transparent,” was among the speakers at the rally.
“Chapel’s decision to share his displeasure in the form of a humorous insult in front of thousands of people and then broadcast it to hundreds of millions of people infinitely escalates gender violence,” he said.
“I want trans representation on the Netflix board, this (without) week,” the writer-director said.
Ashley Marie Preston, an activist and event organizer, addressed the rally and later spoke to the Associated Press. She said calling out Chappell for his remarks was not enough.
“It was important to focus on people signing checks, because Dave Chappelle doesn’t sign checks, Netflix does,” Preston said. “If we have companies like Netflix that aren’t listening to their employees, who are forcing their employees to participate in their harassment, that’s unacceptable.”
“We’re here to hold people accountable. We’re not going anywhere,” she said, adding that efforts are underway to start talks with Netflix executives.
There were moments of shuffling and shoving between the competing protesters, but the conflict was mostly confined to a war of words.
Leia Figueroa, a Los Angeles student who doesn’t work at Netflix, said she wants to support Walkout. While the streaming service offers positive fare for the LGBTQ community, she said, it’s going both ways by offering a show like Chappelle’s that includes derogatory comments about trans women.
If Netflix wants to be “a non-political platform,” they have to be that, Figueroa said. “But they’re saying things like ‘black lives matter’ and ‘we don’t stand for transphobia’.” If you say things like that, you’re going to have to check all your stuff to make sure it reflects your values.”
As she was speaking, one protester shouted, “We love jokes.”
“I love funny jokes, and transphobia is no joke,” replied Figueroa.
Belissa Cohen, a former journalist, said she was on hand to “support Netflix’s decision not to pull the special.”
“We want to show that when it comes to Netflix audiences there is no unanimous support about transgender ideology,” Cohen said.
She was among about a dozen people who carried placards reading “Free speech is a right” and “Truth is not transphobic”. Before him were signs that included “Black Trans Lives Matter” and “Transphobia is not funny”.
Elliot Page, who stars in Netflix’s “The Umbrella Academy” and is transgender, tweeted that he stands with trans, nonbinary and people of color who work at Netflix, which is creating “more and better trans stories and more.” Fighting for an inclusive workplace.”
Team Trans*, which identifies itself as supporting “trans people working at Netflix trying to make a better world for our community,” is supported by trans and nonbinary workers and partners at Netflix. The list of “asks” being created from is called. .
They are calling on the company to “repair” its relationship with employees and audiences, including hiring trans executives and increasing spending on trans and nonbinary creators and projects.
“Reduction in harm” is another demand, which includes acceptance of Netflix’s “responsibility for this harm from transphobic content, and in particular for the harm caused to the black trans community,” according to the list.
It also called for the disclaimer to flag content that contains “transphobic language, misogyny, homophobia” and hate speech.
In a statement, media watchdog group GLAAD said it salutes Netflix employees, affiliates and LGBTQ and Black advocates “within Netflix and in the entertainment industry calling for accountability and change.”
Equally walkout staff cited GLAAD statements to journalists.
How Netflix responded to employees’ concerns with not only the special, but internal memos, including co-CEO Ted Sarandos’ claim that “content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”
Sarandos also wrote that Netflix does not allow titles that are “designed to incite hatred or violence, and we do not believe ‘The Closer’ crosses that line.”
In interviews on Tuesday, Sarandos said he failed to recognize that “a group of our employees were really hurting,” as he told The Wall Street Journal, and his concerns about TV’s impact on viewers. The comment was an oversimplification.
Tera Fields, who identifies herself on Twitter as a senior software engineer at Netflix and as trans, posted critical tweets shortly after Chappelle’s special aired and the comments were widely shared.
In her post, Fields said that the comic was being criticized not because her remarks were offensive, but because of the harm it causes to the trans community, particularly black women. Fields included a list of trans and non-binary men and women of color who he said had been killed, adding in each case that the victim “is not offended.”
This story corrects the spelling of Belissa Cohen’s first name.