Netflix’s support of Dave Chappelle is setting a dangerous precedent. Here’s why.

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Netflix Claims to be a beacon to include the front and back of the camera. but the growing controversy Dave Chappelle’The latest standup special, “The Closer,” proves it has a long way to go.

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In “Closer,” released last week, Chappelle reacted to the criticism when he was expressing solidarity with “Harry Potter” writer JK Rowling by making jokes about the trans community, who have expressed solidarity with confronting sex with gender and Reacted after defending the views. suggesting that changing one’s biological gender was a threat to one’s own gender identity.

“I agree, man,” Chappelle says in his special, base jokes about trans bodies. “Gender is a fact. Every human being in this room, every human being on earth had to pass through a woman’s feet to be on earth. It is a fact.”


Chappelle, 48, is History of making trans- and homophobic comments In his standup set, which includes his 2019 Netflix special “Sticks and Stones,” he said that “people with the alphabet (LGBTQ)” don’t care about him.

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Controversy arose on social media in the wake of the “Closer” release, with trans Netflix employees and affiliates planning a walkout for October 20. Further fanning the flames, on Friday Netflix fired an employee who was organizing a protest for leaking confidential viewership. Data for “closer” bloomberg, with details of Chappelle’s compensation. According to ledge, the employee is trans.

A spokesperson told Granthshala, “We have let an employee go outside the company for sharing confidential, commercially sensitive information. We understand this employee may have been motivated by frustration and hurt from Netflix, but a The culture that maintains trust and transparency is important to our company.”

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said in a staff memo this week That “content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm,” a fact refuted by research also revealed in one of Netflix’s own documentaries, 2020’s “Disclosure,” suggests that pop culture How trans people are affected by negative representation in

Sarandos wrote in a memo to employees on Monday, “We understand that the concern is not about offensive-to-something content, but rather titles that may exacerbate real-world harm (such as those already marginalized). further marginalization of living groups, hatred, violence etc.)”. was obtained by Granthshala. “Last year, we heard similar concerns about ‘365 days’ and violence against women,” he continued. “While some employees disagree, we firmly believe that content on screen does not directly harm the real world.” Diversity First reported on memo.

“We are working hard to ensure that marginalized communities are not defined by a single story,” Sarandos continued. “So we have Sex Education, Orange Is the New Black, Control Z, Hannah Gadsby and Dave Chappelle are all on Netflix. The key is to increase diversity on the content team.”

Emmy-winning comedian Gadsby fired back in an Instagram post on Friday with two Netflix specials, Write, “You didn’t pay me nearly enough to deal with the real-world consequences of the hate speech dog you refuse to admit, Ted,” and calls Netflix an “emoral algorithmic cult.”

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Do words directly hurt?

according to a study by American Academy of PediatricsOnscreen violence leads to an increase in aggressive thoughts and behavior as well as a decrease in audience empathy. The same can be said about hate speech, whether by politicians, celebrities or people you know.

“When people hear other people say things that are hateful for any reason and aimed at any group, it allows them, basically, to think that and to imitate that kind of speech. For,” says Diana Zuckerman, president of the National. Health Research Center.

Stand-up comedy has long been an art form, characterized by its sharp, no-prisoner attitude. as diverse as comedians Sarah Silvermanhandjob kevin harthandjob Pete Davidson And jerry seinfeld All have landed in hot water for jokes that have been deemed insensitive to particular groups.

Images of violence or harm have also been debated for a long time (WATCH: Quentin Tarantino), including Netflix: The Streamer eventually made a controversial edit Suicide scene in his YA series “13 Reasons Why” after a sharp reaction. A later study found suicide among US children aged 10 to 17 jumped to the highest level in 19 years In the month following the series’ release.

with and Anti-trans violence on the rise In America, Chappelle’s commentary struck a particularly bad chord.

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“When it is a group that is already vulnerable because they are already discriminated against – perhaps even by members of their own family, let alone others – they are the people who will be hurt more emotionally than this, Zuckerman says. “I know some people get very upset about political correctness – ‘Can’t we joke about anything anymore? People shouldn’t be so sensitive’ – but when you talk to a discriminatory group It’s very different if you are a member.”

And even if it’s difficult to determine whether words directly cause harm, “we shouldn’t celebrate it,” says Lanier Holt, an associate professor at The Ohio State University who specializes in audiences from marginalized groups. Study the effects of media messages on perceptions.

“There is a long history of homophobia and acceptance of racism in the black community, whether in our churches and in our satire. What we’re ultimately doing is under the guise of humor, making it seem like it’s okay or celebrated or Worse, it’s funny. And there’s nothing funny about that.”

And with a large stage like his, Chappelle’s “words have weight,” Holt says. “He’s now at a point where his words become information. He can’t do the same thing he did 20 years ago.”

Netflix’s reaction is scratching heads

With an employee walkout planned in the coming week, Netflix’s nostalgic response to the show leaves all the more head-scratching. The streamer has been touted as a welcoming place for LGBTQ employees, with a wealth of queer memes and messages pouring in from the company’s social media accounts.

Not to mention its strong slate of LGBTQ content. The Netflix original series “Orange Is the New Black” and “Sense 8” had prominent representations of LGBTQ in front and behind the camera, as do new teen shows including “Sex Education” and “Never Have I Ever.”

But while it may seem like Netflix is ​​so full of LGBTQ content, novelty, prominence and repeated exposure can give way to a false impression.

University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative studies the company’s diversity efforts in a February report Commissioned by Streamer, examined the streaming service’s diversity progress in 126 movies and 180 scripted series, and found that the company still lacks representation across key demographics.

For example, LGBTQ characters were in the main cast of only 4% of the films and 6% of the series.

Smith, the founder and director of the USC initiative, noted the importance of audits at the time, saying, “often what we think could not be further from the truth.”

Earlier, in January, Netflix released its first inclusion report, highlighting the company’s progress and the further steps it needs to make more inclusive — like achieving pay equity for underrepresented employees.

Raquel Willis, a trans activist who has spoken out about Chappelle on Twitter, applauds Netflix employees’ planned walkout.

“The company needs to listen to trans employees and employees,” Willis says.

He believes Netflix’s handling of the situation has been irresponsible, given that “close to” more than 10 million people have watched. bloomberg report good.

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“So much damage has been done,” Willis says, and Netflix is ​​hurting by addressing the concerns of the community, “including a lack of “due diligence” prior to release. “Leadership is showing that they don’t really have values ​​to support the trans community and in particular to fight against transphobia.”

She encourages people not to watch Netflix on Wednesday in solidarity with the protesters, and hopes that young trans people in particular will continue to find their communities, whether in person or online.

“I will inspire young trans people to continue speaking out, because they deserve to live their lives in an authentic and vulnerable way like no one else.”

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