Netflix employees staged a walkout outside the company’s office-studio complex in Los Angeles on Wednesday to protest Dave Chappelle’s stand-up special The Closer, which has drawn criticism for its perceived transphobic comments. The special debuted on the streamer on Oct. 5. As Associated Press reports, the rally was also attended by counterprotestors.
Most appeared to be advocating for the platform’s employees, AP noted. Transparent creator Joey Soloway spoke during the rally.
Soloway said Chappelle’s decision to share “his outrage as comedic humiliation in front of thousands of people, and then broadcasting it to hundreds of millions of people is infinitely amplified gender violence.”
“I want trans representation on the Netflix board, this [expletive] week,” the writer-director added.
Other supporters joined from afar.
“I stand with the trans, nonbinary, and BIPOC employees at Netflix fighting for more and better trans stories and a more inclusive workplace,” Elliot Page, who stars in Netflix’s The Umbrella Academy, tweeted.
“If you’re not standing up for trans lives, you need to take a good look at who you ARE standing with,” director Lilly Wachowski tweeted. “Good luck today everybody!”
The rally also drew detractors, who touted signs that read “Free speech is a right” and “Truth is transphobic,” per AP. There were some clashes, “but the conflict was mostly limited to a war of words,” AP reported.
Prior to the rally, Netflix issued a statement acknowledging the walkout. “We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that’s been caused,” a Netflix representative said. “We respect the decision of any employee who chooses to walk out, and recognize we have much more work to do both within Netflix and in our content.”
As The Verge reported, the list of demands from the trans employee group at Netflix that helped organize the walkout includes hiring trans and nonbinary people to executive and other leadership positions, as well as creating a fund to support trans and nonbinary talent. “Harm reduction” was also on the list, under which it called for disclaimers “that specifically flag transphobic language, misogyny, homophobia, hate speech, etc., as required.”
“We want the company to adopt measures in the areas of content investment, employee relations and safety, and harm reduction, all of which are necessary to avoid future instances of platforming transphobia and hate speech,” they wrote.