Netflix has suspended three employees, including one trans person, who crashed a quarterly directors meeting to speak out against Dave Chappelle’s latest stand-up special “The Closer,” an individual with knowledge told TheWrap.
The special has faced backlash for offensive, transphobic material. And trans software engineer Terra Field, based in San Francisco, was among those suspended after the employees crashed the meeting for Netflix’s quarterly business review. Field and the others were not directors and did not notify the people running the meeting first, and the incidents are being investigated, with Field suspended because of that investigation.
However, a Netflix representative says that Field was not suspended for tweeting about the Chappelle special and that the company encourages its employees to speak openly.
“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,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement to TheWrap.
“Yesterday we launched another Chappelle special where he attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness – all while trying to pit us against other marginalized groups,” Field previously said in a series of tweets. “You’re going to hear a lot of talk about ‘offense’. We are not offended…Being trans is actually pretty funny, if you’re someone who actually knows about the subject matter. How could volunteering for a second puberty *not* be funny? That isn’t what he is doing though. Our existence is ‘funny’ to him – and when we object to his harm, we’re ‘offended.’”
Earlier on Monday, Variety reported that co-CEO Ted Sarandos sent a memo to staff about “The Closer” and will not take down the comedy special after the backlash, adding that “artistic freedom” is different for stand-up comedy.
“We don’t allow titles (on) Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe ‘The Closer’ crosses that line,” he wrote.
Netflix had no comment on the memo.
GLAAD released a statement on the comments.
“Netflix has a policy that content ‘designed to incite hate or violence’ is not allowed on the platform, but we all know that anti-LGBTQ content does exactly that,” the GLAAD statement said. “While Netflix is home to groundbreaking LGBTQ stories, now is the time for Netflix execs to listen to LGBTQ employees, industry leaders, and audiences and commit to living up to their own standards.”
The 48-year-old Chappelle has sparked outrage from the trans community for past stand-up routines, well before his new half-hour set. “Gender is a fact,” he stated at one point. “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 then riffed about the genitalia of trans women, which he described as “not what it is.”
Chappelle also drew heat for defending J.K. Rowling, the “Harry Potter” author who has been repeatedly criticized for making transphobic comments. “They canceled J.K. Rowling – my God,” he said. “Effectually she said gender was a fact, the trans community got mad as s—, they started calling her a TERF.”
TERF stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist” — feminists who do not believe trans women are women. Chapelle then went on to declare himself “Team TERF.”
Other trans individuals who have worked with Netflix, including “Dear White People” executive producer Jaclyn Moore, had also criticized Chappelle and said that she was “done” with the streamer after the special was allowed to air.
Variety first reported the news.