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Netflix backs comedian Dave Chappelle despite criticism over trans remarks

Chappelle's special, The Closer, will remain on the streaming service. 

Netflix backs comedian Dave Chappelle despite criticism over trans remarks

Dave Chappelle arrives at the 22nd Annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Oct. 27, 2019, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP, File)

A top Netflix executive said Dave Chappelle's special The Closer doesn't cross "the line on hate" and will remain on the streaming service despite fallout over the comedian's remarks about the transgender community.

In an internal memo, co-CEO Ted Sarandos told managers that "some talent" may join third parties in calling for the show's removal, adding, "which we are not going to do".

Netflix declined comment on the memo, which was reported on Monday (Oct 11) by Variety.

But the company responded to news reports it had suspended three employees, including one, Terra Field, who'd criticised Chappelle's special in tweets. Field identifies herself on Twitter as a senior software engineer at Netflix and as trans.

"It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employees for tweeting about this show. Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so," Netflix said in a statement.

According to a person familiar with the matter, the three employees joined a quarterly meeting for company directors and vice presidents without gaining authorisation. The person, who wasn't authorised to discuss the situation publicly, said one worker was suspended as a result of an investigation.

What, if any, action was or might be taken against the other two workers was unknown.

Field didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. In her posts, she said that Chappelle was being criticised not because his comments are offensive but for the harm they do to the trans community, especially black women.

Field included a list of trans and nonbinary men and women of colour who she said had been killed, adding in each case that the victim "is not offended".

A representative for Chappelle didn't respond to a request for comment.

In a statement on Monday, the media watchdog group GLAAD said that "anti-LGBTQ content" violates Netflix's policy to reject programmes that incite hate or violence. GLAAD called on Netflix executives to "listen to LGBTQ employees, industry leaders, and audiences and commit to living up to their own standards".

When Chappelle's special was released last week, the group said that the comedian's "brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalised communities".

Jaclyn Moore, who was a writer and producer on the Netflix show Dear White People, tweeted that she worked with executives and others at the service who "fought for important art" and that she told "the story of my transition for @netflix".

But she faces hate and attacks because "I'm not a 'real woman'," Moore said.

"I will not work with them as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content," she said on Twitter.

Source: AP/sr