Netflix keeping Dave Chappelle special up despite controversy

Los Angeles — A top Netflix executive said Dave Chappelle’s special “The Closer” doesn’t cross “the line on hate” and will remain on the streaming service despite fallout over the comedian’s remarks about the transgender community.

In an internal memo, co-CEO Ted Sarandos told managers that “some talent” may join third parties in calling for the show’s removal, adding, “which we are not going to do.”

Netflix declined comment on the memo, which was reported Monday by Variety.

But the company responded to news reports it had suspended three employees, including one, Terra Field, who’d criticized Chappelle’s special in tweets. Field identifies herself on Twitter as a senior software engineer at Netflix and as trans.

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Dave Chappelle in a scene from “The Closer”

“It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employees for tweeting about this show. Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so,” Netflix said in a statement.

According to a person familiar with the matter, the three employees joined a quarterly meeting for company directors and vice presidents without gaining authorization. The person, who wasn’t authorized to discuss the situation publicly, said one worker was suspended as a result of an investigation.

What if any action was or might be taken against the other two workers was unknown.

Field didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. In her posts, she said that Chappelle was being criticized not because his comments are offensive but for the harm they do to the trans community, especially Black women.

Field included a list of trans and nonbinary men and women of color who she said had been killed, adding in each case that the victim “is not offended.”

A representative for Chappelle didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In a statement Monday, the media watchdog group GLAAD said that “anti-LGBTQ content” violates Netflix’s policy to reject programs that incite hate or violence. GLAAD called on Netflix executives to “listen to LGBTQ employees, industry leaders, and audiences and commit to living up to their own standards.”

When Chappelle’s special was released last week, the group said that the comedian’s “brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized communities.”

Jaclyn Moore, who was a writer and producer on the Netflix show “Dear White People,” tweeted that she worked with executives and others at the service who “fought for important art” and that she told “the story of my transition for Netflix.”

But she faces hate and attacks because “I’m not a ‘real woman,'” Moore said.

“I will not work with them as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content,” she said on Twitter.

What he said

In “The Closer,” Chappelle addressed several controversies surrounding his past comments on the LGBTQ+ community.

Chappelle talked about how other Black rappers and comedians have been “canceled” and lost monetary projects because of divisive comments or jokes, including comedian Kevin Hart and rapper DaBaby

“In our country, you can shoot and kill a n****  but you better not hurt a gay person’s feelings,” Chappelle quipped. “And this is precisely the disparity that I wish to discuss.”

Chappelle also made a series of comments on transgender people, agreeing with “Harry Potter” author J.K Rowling on her anti-trans statements. “I’m team TERF!” Chappelle said, referring to trans exclusionary radical feminism, an anti-trans section of radical feminism. 

“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,” Chappelle said. 

Chappelle also said he “beat up” a lesbian in a nightclub after he approached her partner, and she later tried to sell the story to TMZ. “I whooped the toxic masculinity out of that b****,” he said.

The comedian ended the special by saying he would not be making anymore jokes about gay people until everyone agreed “we are laughing together,” so long as the LGBTQ+ community stopped taking away job opportunities from people who offend them.