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Netflix employees stage virtual walkout; protestors gather near streamer’s LA office over Chappelle controversy

Written by on October 20, 2021

Not even a day after Netflix head Ted Sarandos told Variety he “screwed up” about how he handled the company’s controversial Dave Chappelle special The Closer, comes a coordinated protest from trans employees and allies.

The hit special had been called transphobic by some, and even hate speech by others. 

Netflix employees staged a virtual walkout Wednesday, during which organizers declared “participating staffers will not do any work for Netflix and instead engage in content that does support the trans community and donate to charities,” according to The Hollywood Reporter

As that happens internally, supporters initially gathered at Netflix’s offices on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles to have their voices heard, but according to organizer Ashlee Marie Preston, the crowd grew too large at that location and moved to a nearby street. Several stars, including Queer Eye‘s Jonathan Van Ness, former Grey’s Anatomy star Sara Ramirez, and The Good Place‘s Jameela Jamil supported the protest, in a video introduced by Preston.

Preston also announced that Sarandon will be presented with a “list of demands” from the streaming service. 

According to The Verge, that list of demands from Netflix’s Trans Employee Resource Group (ERG) includes “steps…to begin to repair the relationship between the Company, our colleagues, and our audience.”

Specifically, the ERG wants Netflix, “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, and to account for the harm we have caused.”

The Closer, in which Chappelle also railed against “cancel culture,” has become a hot potato for the streaming service. Amid the initial outcry, Sarandos defended it and Chappelle, noting freedom of speech and claiming that “content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.”

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