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Some Netflix employees left Wednesday in protest of the latest comedy special episode of Dave Chappelle, the closest, which contains jokes about transgender people. They rallied and their allies chanted “Transnational lives matter.”
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They were joined by influential figures in the entertainment industry.
Writer and director Joy Solway called for cross-representation on the Netflix board of directors while activist and organizer Ashley Marie Preston addressed the crowds and spoke to the press.
There were also counter-protesters who were there to support Netflix’s decision not to pull the special.
Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos said this week that he “failed” to reach out to his employees after they expressed dissatisfaction with the special, but he also stood by the streaming giant’s decision not to remove the show from its lineup.
“Obviously I screwed up that intercom,” he told Variety. “First of all, I should have led more humanity. Meaning, I had a group of employees who were definitely hurt and hurt by a decision we made. And I think that should be acknowledged up front before going into the nuts and bolts of anything.”
Chappelle’s latest special has been criticized for its many jokes about transgender individuals and the LGBTQ+ community.
Advocates called transphobic hate, but Sarandos told his employees when the backlash began that the company would never put in place programs “designed to incite hatred or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line.”