About 100 people protested near Netflix’s headquarters on Wednesday against the streaming pioneer’s decision to release comedian Dave Chappelle’s new special, which they say ridicules transgender people.
Netflix staff members, transgender rights advocates and public officials gathered on a sidewalk outside a Netflix office block away from the company’s main 13-story Sunset Boulevard building in Los Angeles.
Demonstrators held signs proclaiming, “Trans Lives Matter” and “Team Trans” and chanted slogans like “What do we want? Accountability,” “When do we want it? Now.”
Netflix staff were outnumbered by members of the public, but the precise number was not clear. Netflix employees had called for a walkout.
Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos acknowledged in interviews before the walkout, “I screwed up” in how he spoke to Netflix’s staff about Chappelle’s special, “The Closer.”
Sarandos previously defended the decision to air the show, saying Chappelle’s language did not cross the line into inciting violence.
Mike Bary, parent to an eight-year-old trans son, encouraged Chapelle to think about the impact of his jokes.
“Yes, there is freedom of speech, but you don’t have to be mean when you make jokes. You know, an understanding is a little bit, I think Dave Chappelle, a funny person, needs to understand a little more about the jokes he’s making and how they can affect people,” he said.
Not everyone supported that message.
“We like jokes. We like Dave Chappelle. Comedy is very important to the American experience, the American way of life, free speech, all of it. We’re just out here supporting a great comedian, said counter-protester Vito Gesualdi.