Chappelle's 'The Closer' was highly criticized for its transphobia, particularly by one of the streaming giant's trans employees. They were fired on National Coming Out Day.
Trigger Warning: Transphobia, Violence and Discrimination Against Trans Folks, Dave Chappelle
Comedian Dave Chappelle released his new Netflix stand-up special The Closer on September 29. Similar to his previous sets, the most recent production was highly transphobic. Trans activists have since criticized Netflix and the comedian for his continued bigotry against those who are gender non-conforming. Despite this criticism, the streaming giant has stood by Chappelle. More egregiously, the company fired a trans employee after a tweet they posted denouncing The Closer went viral. Netflix software engineer Terra Field wrote that the comedian "attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness" in his special, The Verge reports.
Field shared, "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 marginalized groups. You're going to hear a lot of talk about 'offense.' We are not offended." The engineer rejected the idea that the trans experience is not funny. Instead, they highlighted the harm Chappelle caused through his transphobia, blanketed in what he considers "humor." "What we object to is the harm that content like this does to the trans community (especially trans people of color) and VERY specifically Black trans women," they clarified. "People who look like me aren't being killed. I'm a White woman, I get to worry about Starbucks writing 'Tara' on my drink."
netflix suspending a trans employee on coming out day for speaking out about the company's decision to keep giving dave chappelle a platform sure is a bit of Timing— 🏳️🌈 Sam Kimbrel (@skimbrel) October 11, 2021
They continued, "Promoting [Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist] 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." In subsequent tweets, Field went on to share the names of 38 Black trans folks who were murdered this year alone.
Tyianna Alexander, a 28-year-old Black trans woman who was shot to death in Chicago on January 6th. Friends said she had "good energy".— Terra Field (@RainofTerra) October 7, 2021
Tyianna is not offended.
Field's Twitter thread went viral, with their first post being retweeted over 16,500 times. While thousands of Twitter users appreciated the engineer's insights, their employer did not. Netflix suspended Field as well as two other employees after they attempted to attend a director-level meeting they were not invited to. Additionally, another trans employee reportedly quit the company over how the special along with Field’s comments were handled. In a statement to The Verge, the streaming giant denied that Field (or any other employee) was fired for tweeting. "It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employee for tweeting about this show," the company alleged. "Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so.
Y'all gotta stop making these arguments. You've seen enough black folks operating in the name of white supremacy to know that isn't how things work. Additionally, him being kind to one trans person while being unkind to them generally doesn't make him an ally. https://t.co/TBiMlqw0PQ— Lumina Supremacy 10.14.21 (@kat_blaque) October 12, 2021
Meanwhile, Chappelle's The Closer continues to remain as part of Netflix's offerings. Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos claimed that the firm was committed to inclusion, pointing to its Netflix Originals such as Disclosure and Sex Education. However, one current employee claimed the company could not "do a carbon offset for bigotry." Disclosure director Sam Feder added in a tweet that Netflix "rented [the documentary] for half of what it cost to make it." Despite the heavy and warranted backlash, Sarandos stated in an internal email, "It never feels good when people are hurting, especially our colleagues. You should also 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."