Netflix CEO doubles down on "transphobia in media isn't harmful"

I had to step away but I have read their latest responses and having thought it through I concede the points made – that my initial understanding of your post was incorrect.

I still think that yours is an overreaction, but you’re well within your right to do what you think is right in cancelling your Netflix account. I also think that the Netflix CEO was compelled to say something, when what he should have said was nothing. I further agree that the nature of comedy is often offensive and people who find it offensive probably should make the choice to avoid artists known to make jokes they don’t like or find deeply offensive. Unless an artist is advocating actual harm to a specific group, production companies, investors and media companies ought not be held responsible for those views. Final caveat: I’m not familiar with what Chapelle said in this special or his previous specials. I reserve the right to change my opinion about what Netflix should have said or done if Chapelle’s speech advocates actual harm rather than just being distasteful. Have you yourself heard what was actually said by Chapelle?

And that seems to be the issue. You seem to see bigotry as merely about saying something offensive. But bigotry is far more than that. For example, people who are willing to openly and proudly use bigoted speech don’t just talk the talk. They will also do bigoted things. They will discriminate against the minorities they are attacking.

Sure, if the issue was just “this speech makes me angry,” then not listening to it would be the correct solution. But the goal is to stop bigotry. And one way to do that is to do what you can to make it not profitable for companies to allow bigoted content on their platforms.

It’s not overreacting. It’s doing the only thing that works: loudly protesting and boycotting. That’s why there is a planned walkout. Over 1000 Netflix employees are expected to walk out on October 20th. Trans and other LGBT employees are tired of bigotry against them being excused by the company they work for. This isn’t people who are upset by “distasteful jokes.”

I was asking myself the same question, so I searched a bit and found this article about the show and Chapelle’s bits in question:

And yes, judging from this AND the reaction from Netflix’s CEO, I totally understand that @naita considers leaving Netflix.

One thing that’s odd about this from Netflix is they have a lot of trans-positive content. I’m surprised at how many shows have a trans character where it’s literally a non issue. Like, a show will have a trans woman playing the role of a school counselor, and literally there is not a single acknowledgement of it. Many other shows will do something to highlight the fact that the show knows this person is trans, like having some parent be upset, but the Netflix show doesn’t. The school counselor is trans and not a single person on the show cares or even makes mention of it. Of course, that’s how it should be. I thought Netflix was being very progressive with the way they presented trans characters and trans actors as just characters and actors rather than having some focus on the trans part. So it’s confusing that they would approach the Chapelle situation this way and throw away a lot of the goodwill they had created in the trans community.

I think a case can be sometimes made that humor is a way to tackle sensitive subjects. I’m not a huge fan of Tosh.0, but I’ve seen some of his comedy, and it is extremely offensive. But it is offensive in a way that the audience knows that he’s playing the part of a bad person in saying these things, and that these are not things that should be said by any respectable person.(That’s my take on it anyway, I haven’t really watched too much or followed him, maybe he actually is just as toxic as the persona he presents.)

I could see a defense of that sort put up about Chappelle’s comedy, except on reading on the Time’s article, it doesn’t seem as though that was what he was going for.

The problem isn’t that the comedy offends someone, it is that it enables others. It normalizes and and in fact celebrates transphobia in a way that you don’t have to watch the special in order to be affected, others who have watched it will be kind enough to share the more offensive bits with you.

Legally, no. But socially, absolutely. If you are promoting and profiting off of transphobic content, then you are part of the problem.

I’d suggest reading the Times article, it breaks down enough of it. He specifically is calling out the trans community as fakers and describes them in disgusting ways.

A few things from the article, since I have it up with one of my free monthly views…

I’m actually okay with being the target of comedy, as a straight white cis-male, I can take it. But he is not targeting white people, he is targeting gay and transgendered people, including the Black ones.

That’s just pure hate, nothing else.

Suicide is a real thing among the trans community, and having famous comedians have a platform, getting the #3 ranking in views, where he spews hatred and disgust towards them is exactly the sort of thing that makes such problems worse. As I said, you don’t have to watch Chappelle’s special to be affected by it.

The very fact that their members enjoy it is something that should be troubling, not just to the Netflix CEO’s, but to everyone. There are far too many people who enjoy hating and dehumanizing others, and that’s not something that you should brag about profiting off of.

I don’t have a Netflix account, so I can’t cancel it, but if I did, I would be interested in seeing how this plays out, as I wouldn’t want my money to help them to continue to profit off of denigration and degradation of those who are already extremely vulnerable in our society.

I’ve seen the special and it’s fucking hilarious. The jokes he made were not hateful jokes. Just humorous metaphors.

And besides, bigots are going to bigot anyway.

Media personalities like Tuckerson are the ones who cause harm. Comedians, I don’t think so. I doubt many people think: “Oh since Chapelle made fun of trans, I guess that must mean it’s ok to be dicks to trans people”.

Yeah, but we don’t have to give them Netflix specials.

No, they think, “Since Chappelle got a Netflix special out of making fun of transgendered people, it must be okay to be dicks to them.”

It does normalize it, and for those who are already transphobic, it even celebrates it. It gives them ammo to use against those they hate, and cover in that what they are saying can’t be that bad, if it was promoted by a major media company.

I don’t disagree that personalities like Tuckerson are harmful, and cause more harm than a Chappelle show, but I think that everyone here has already boycotted Fox, so there’s really no reason to even bring up such a comparison.

Netflix is most of my entertainment. And they do have a lot of trans-friendly content. Are there any protests bring that would be something less than quitting?

He’s quoted as saying that he’s “team TERF”, and comparing being trans with wearing blackface. He joked about transgender genitalia and defended noted TERF J.K. Rowling. He stated “gender is a fact,” a known catchphrase for TERFs, meaning that a trans woman is not a woman and a trans man is not a man.

I do not see how any of that could possibly not be hateful. The word TERF is the trans equivalent to the KKK. You don’t casually say you’re team KKK or defend people who are known to be part of the KKK.

It seems that the LGBT employees at Netflix (and their allies), GLAAD, even the National Black Justice Coalition don’t agree with your assessment, as they have all condemned the special. In fact, there don’t seem to be any LGBT people defending it at all. Obviously they know more about what is and is not hateful towards them, as they live it day in and day out.

Plus it’s not like we don’t already know that Chappelle says hateful shit. I watched the full joke where he argued that the women who left comedy after Louis CK’s sexual assault clearly didn’t actually have what it takes to be a comedian. They didn’t want it badly enough.

And, yes, pretty much all of the commentary I can find from actual LGBT people seems to think that he was just using his “one trans friend” as a shield at the end. Note that she was not actually around to speak for herself on whether what Chappelle said was hateful or not.

The one good thing I can say for Chappelle is that at least the current backlash has hit. He’s claimed that he will stop doing jokes about trans and other LGBT people. Too bad the CEO at Netflix thought it was better to defend that shit.

Considering this stuff from the CEO was the internal response to many, many Netflix employees bringing this up, after Netflix suspended an employee for speaking up, no I don’t think so. Netflix has a couple of days to publicly disavow this approach, and them I’m done. I don’t think anything short of an exodus of subscribers is going to have any effect.

My understanding is that they’ve already unsuspended everyone.

Yeah that part gets me – like, after all that this is the hill the executives are going to die on? Really?

Ever wonder what might be that Roald did leave in the “not a good idea” drawer? And are thankful you can’t imagine it?

The length of the suspension wasn’t really my issue, and though the fact that she may have “crashed a zoom meeting” makes the suspension fairly reasonable it wasn’t the main reason for me contemplating ending my subscription.
Some number of trans employees are planning a walk out. I guess I’ll wait until we see Netflix response to that before waving goodbye to the service.

Well I am now!

@EinsteinsHund and @k9bfriender make reasonable points and I took the time to read the linked article to get more insight into what Chappelle is being criticized for. I still think I should see the show to get the full context. While I’ve never been a fan, I don’t have any particular animosity towards him so in the interest of being better informed, I’ll probably watch it this weekend. Additionally, in the interest of context of the quotes snipped and pasted, I think it would be remiss to also not provide the following from the Time article:

On the other hand, Dorman’s own family came to Chappelle’s defense, with her sister Brandy telling the Daily Beast that Dave “loved my sister and is an LGBTQ ally.”

“What he’s saying to the LGBTQ family is, ‘I see you. Do you see me? I’m mourning my friend in the best way I know how. Can you see me? Can you allow me that?,’” Brandy Dorman wrote on Facebook. “This was a call to come together, that two oppressed factions of our nation put down their keyboards and make peace. How sad that this message was lost in translation.”

I’m including it here because I think it’s important to acknowledge that there are not just two points of view on this topic: pro- or anti-trans. I think that there is a way to look at this issues (and others like it) that don’t just boil down to with us or against us thinking. I think Chappelle might be trans-phobic, but he might also be struggling with something he recognizes as his own personal shortcomings. I would not call him brave for exposing his possible biases in this manner, but I do think (at least for now) that he’s expressing something many people experience and is forcing a conversation that needs to continue to happen if change and acceptance is to be achieved. I think that his message of, “I may not understand this but I’m going to work on being less of a dick about it in an effort that one day I might”, should not be something that is vilified.

My wife and I watched the show last night.

Neither of us has any of the critical context that we might need in order to really form a solid opinion – anything about Chappelle, his history, actual actions, his true thoughts and feelings, etc.

But we laughed a lot, and found the whole situation much more nuanced than many of the loudest voices in the media/social media might have us believe.

For the moment … “there’s no such thing as bad publicity” comes to mind.

Imagine our relief.

Sounds like your main objection is that Netflix doesn’t have a better PR department.

Chapelle makes a lot of jokes in his special that are “offensive” to a lot of different groups (Blacks, Whites, Asians, Jews, Women, etc…). What makes his “trans” jokes stand out as “crossing the line”?

Comedian Hannah Gadsby just weighed in, after Serandos invoked her name while defending the special:

Do you remember Chris Rock’s routine about the difference between black people and n*****s? He doesn’t do that anymore because he was disturbed by the number of white people who took his bit as a license to use the n-word freely. Chapelle himself had a similar experience, when he was doing the Chapelle Show, that got so bad he walked away from a million dollar contract and stopped doing comedy entirely for a few years. He’s still so torqued up about it that he made Netflix stop showing The Chapelle Show as part of his contract to do these specials.

So, the whole, “it’s just jokes, there’s no real-world harm,” thing doesn’t seem to really be true - or, at least, Dave Chapelle thinks its something that can happen. It’s just that he only cares if it happens to him.

Who are “us” here? And why should I care about your opinion?

Is it possible to fool me with good PR? Of course, I’m a normal human being who doesn’t do extensive research on every company I interact with in my life. But the issue here was raised by Netflix employees of the group specifically impacted. Am not I allowed to consider there opinion more informed than mine? If the CEO walks back his “nothing we show has real world impacts” statement and the trans employees are happy with that, am I somehow supposed to dig deeper, in your opinion?

I haven’t seen Chapelle. I have no interest in offense comedy. Perhaps Black Netflix employees think he contributes to negative perceptions of Black people in exactly the same way trans employees feel, but don’t speak up. Does that mean I’m wrong to pay attention to the people who do speak up?