Trans employees and their allies at Netflix are planning a walkout on Wednesday, October 20th.
The planned action will be in protest at CEO Ted Sarandos‘ comments regarding Dave Chappelle’s new comedy special, The Closer, Variety confirmed.
Per a report by The Verge, one of the leaders of the streaming giants’ trans employee resource group wrote to members: “Trans Lives Matter. Trans Rights Matter. And as an organisation, Netflix has continually failed to show deep care in our mission to Entertain the World by repeatedly releasing content that harms the Trans community and continually failing to create content that represents and uplifts Trans content. We can and must do better!”
Netflix’s ‘Most’ Twitter account, which is dedicated to promoting LGBTQ+ content, posted on Wednesday: “We can’t always control what goes on screen. What we can control is what we create here, and the POV we bring to internal conversations.”
On Monday (11 October), it was reported by Variety that Sarandos had defended Chappelle’s special in a private memo to senior staff. This is said to have outraged LGBTQ+ staff and their allies as the programme is alleged to contain transphobic and homophobic content.
“Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long-standing deal with him. His last special ‘Sticks & Stones,’ also controversial, is our most-watched, stickiest and most award-winning stand-up special to date,” Sarandos wrote. “As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom — even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful.”
In a statement to Variety, Netflix said that they encourage employees to “disagree openly” with the opinion.
This week has been a PR disaster for Netflix. Shortly after the leak of Sarandos’ memo, three employees were suspended for crashing the board’s quarterly business review meeting in protest at the show, this included engineer Terra Field, who spoke openly about Chappelle’s show on Twitter and her treatment by the company.
According to a Netflix spokesman, Field and her two companions were not suspended due to their Tweets but because they attended the meeting uninvited. In a quick change of heart, on Tuesday the three employees were reinstated.
This is a developing story.