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The Netflix, Dave Chappelle controversy, explained

Why did Netflix employees walk out of company headquarters?

Actor-comedian Dave Chappelle attends the press conference for “A Star Is Born.”
Actor-comedian Dave Chappelle attends the press conference for “A Star Is Born” at the Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto on Sept. 9, 2018. Hundreds of Netflix employees walked out of work this week to protest the controversial Chappelle special, which has been the subject of criticism in recent weeks.
Evan Agostini, Invision/AP

Hundreds of Netflix employees walked out of work this week to protest the controversial Dave Chappelle special, which has been the subject of criticism in recent weeks.

  • The workers “are calling for Netflix to remove it,” per CBS News.
  • And the Netflix employees hope the company will release more “intersectional” films and television series.

The Netflix employees walked out of their company’s building on Wednesday morning. Organizers told CBS News that the employees wanted to rally to “underscore the importance of responsible content offerings that prioritize the safety and dignity of all marginalized communities.”

Protesters have been upset about Chappelle’s comedy special “The Closer,” in which Chappelle made remarks that some viewed to be offensive against the transgender and LGBTQ+ community, per Fox News.

  • In the project, Chappelle said that “gender is a fact.” Per Fox News, Chappelle “compared the transgender community to people who wear blackface.”

Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos originally defended the project in emails to staff, per The Wall Street Journal. He said the project was an example of creative freedom.

Sarandos later said he messed up with his response, per Variety.

  • “Obviously, I screwed up that internal communication. I did that, and I screwed it up in two ways,” Sarandos told Variety. “First and foremost, I should have led with a lot more humanity. Meaning, I had a group of employees who were definitely feeling pain and hurt from a decision we made.”
  • “Of course, storytelling has real impact in the real world,” he added. “That impact can be hugely positive, and it can be quite negative.”

Netflix also issued an apology to employees, per Gizmodo.