Entertainment

Netflix ‘suspends trans employee who spoke out against Dave Chappelle special’

Lily Wakefield October 11, 2021
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Dave Chappelle

Dave Chappelle. (Getty/ Sean Rayford)

Netflix has “suspended” a trans employee who spoke out against Dave Chappelle’s new special, The Closer.

In Chappelle’s latest comedy special, which premiered on Netflix on 5 October, he makes explicit jokes about trans women’s genitals and defends DaBaby and JK Rowling, before declaring himself “Team TERF“.

The next day, Terra Field, a trans senior software engineer at Netflix took to Twitter to hit out at the special, in a thread that went viral with almost 14,000 retweets to date.

She said: “I work at Netflix. 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 marginalised groups. You’re going to hear a lot of talk about ‘offence’.

“We are not offended.”

She continued: “What we object to is the harm that content like this does to the trans community (especially trans people of colour) and very specifically Black trans women… Promoting TERF ideology (which is what we did by giving it a platform yesterday) directly harms trans people, it is not some neutral act.

“This is not an argument with two sides. It is an argument with trans people who want to be alive and people who don’t want us to be.”

She added: “So who does this harm? Why don’t we go over the list of some people from the US who aren’t offended by Dave Chappelle’s special.”

In 38 further tweets, Field listed trans people murdered in the US this year who were “not offended” by the special.

“These are the people that a callous disregard for the lives of trans people by our society have taken from us, and they all deserved better,” she added.

“That these 38 people died for the crime of being themselves? That actually *does* offend me.”

After posting her Twitter thread, Field was “suspended along with two other employees for trying to attend a director-level meeting they weren’t invited to”, The Verge reported.

Netflix told the publication in a statement: “It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employee for tweeting about this show.

“Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so.”

Netflix CEO admits Dave Chappelle’s anti-trans jokes would not be allowed in the workplace, yet refuses to pull special

According to The Verge, on Friday (8 October), Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos responded to questions from staff members about the Dave Chappelle special in an internal email.

He said it “it never feels good when people are hurting, especially our colleagues”, but warned Netflix staff that they should “be aware that some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do”.

Sarandos said the company supports the “creative freedom” of its talent, “even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful”.

“Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate,” he continued.

“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.

“I recognise, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries.”

He said that while “some people find the art of stand-up to be mean-spirited”, Netflix members “enjoy it”.

Sarandos also admitted that “particularly in stand-up comedy, artistic freedom is obviously a very different standard of speech than we allow internally as the goals are different: entertaining people versus maintaining a respectful, productive workplace”.

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