Dave Chappelle’s recent Netflix special The Closer has been a lightning rod for controversy since its debut. As usual, the comedian leaves no stone unturned for his comedy, and this includes telling of stories he’s never really discussed before, but they are stories that shed some light on his particular brand of comedy. These jokes and the backstories give a better insight into Chappelle and explain some of the controversies his past specials have generated. This is a healthy and informative special then, right?
Well according to a Bloomberg News report, apparently not to some Netflix employees. These staffers have “raised concerns” about the special. Or in more accurate terms they complained because it doesn’t make them laugh, so they want him canceled. Since their concerns aren’t being met with warm hands and agreeance, they are planning a walkout on October 20th. While this walkout is honestly nothing more than a gesture, it still generates more news for their ‘cause’.
Per the Bloomberg report, these employees are using Slack channels to let their grievances be known, much like New York Times employees did. One of the ‘transgender leaders’ let it be known that “Our leadership has shown us that they do not uphold the values for which we are held. I encourage us to state clearly that we as Netflix employees are stunning not simply when we are doing the work that our roles demand of us, but also when we challenge the very principles of our company.”
Let’s clear the air here. They aren’t ‘stunning’ they are simply following the herd along on the woke train and going nowhere. Netflix employees said nothing when the sexualization of children was going on with Cuties. Yet Chappelle explaining how he learned the term ‘trannie’ is offensive and the circumstantial meeting with Daphne Dorman’s mother led to Daphne getting her big break is offensive.
A comedian learning about cultural norms and adapting is nothing new. Richard Prior had jokes about how his growth and education as a young man made him into the comic he was. Robin Williams did hours on drug abuse and cocaine use, and how they changed him. These experiences of learning make for great comedy, and Chappelle is no different. Listening to him talk about Daphne’s bombing while on stage, and her being his biggest laugh in the room during his set makes her a hero, not a punchline. He speaks about her with nothing but respect, admiration, and love for her as a person.
This level of love is shared by the co-CEO of Netflix Ted Sarandos. “Some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do. Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long-standing deal with him…As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom — even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful.” By standing up for Chappelle he is acknowledging that some people may get offended, and some people will love it. The ability to make that decision for yourself is something Netflix will not only support but will also defend.
This defense isn’t very common these days. Too many groups tend to freely attack anyone who doesn’t agree with them, and companies having the spine to stand up to them hasn’t been prevalent in America over the last few years. By giving them the freedom to protest as they see fit, Netflix can position itself as a huge ally for free speech. Yes, Sarandos and Netflix could in fact take away pay for the walk-out (as would be their right), but that won’t accomplish much. Will the Chappelle special stay on in the wake of all this pressure, or will Netflix bend at the knee and kiss the social justice ring?