Trans Netflix Employees & Their Allies Protested Yesterday, But Chappelle’s Supporters Stand Strong
It appears the protest of noted comedian, Dave Chappelle, over his latest Netflix comedy special has reached its climax yesterday with the much talked about employee walkout. The walkout was organized by an unnamed, transgender, Netflix employee, who is known to be an African American, transgender man, who has since been fired from the company for maliciously releasing internal and confidential data to Bloomberg which was then reported publicly. While three other transgender employees were suspended for barging into an executive meeting they were not invited to, they have since been reinstated to their positions. The walkout has been an ongoing rumor for the last week and the turnout was a bit odd, because it appeared that there wasn’t much on-ground support from employees but instead transgender activists.
— Shelley Duvall’s Iguana (@MehMovieFacts) October 20, 2021
As documented by a passersby on Twitter, it’s quick to view that the walkout was on the small side. While celebrities like Alyssa Milano, Wanda Sykes, Billy Eichner, Elliot Page, Sara Ramirez, Lilly Wachowski, and Dan Levy voiced their support for the walkout on social media, they did not attend in-person. The cozy crowd was instead led by trans activists, including RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni, Eureka O’Hara, and journalist and aspiring politician, Ashlee Marie Preston. O’Hara spoke aloud to the crowd and promoted herself to varying media in attendance while addressing her privilege as a Caucasian non-binary person. Preston, who seemingly took reigns as the ringleader, was a bit of a shock to be the face and voice of the walkout – since in 2019, she was outed for posting numerous, horrific racist rants – primarily against Asian Americans – and has since apologized. It makes her overwhelming presence at the walkout rather curious, because using her logic, should she not have remained canceled and silent? Another unknown activist told the crowd that everyone should demand Netflix’s Chief Executive Officer, Ted Sarandos, give all of his transgender employees a raise for their “hard work, hard labor, and for putting their trauma up for the world to see.” Currently, no evidence suggests Chappelle’s late-friend, Daphne Dorman, was honored during this walkout. Dorman, a transgender woman, committed suicide in 2019 six days after standing up for Chappelle during his first cancelation and being canceled alongside him. Chappelle dedicated his recent special to Dorman and began a trust fund for Dorman’s young daughter.
It’s quite clear the activists in attendance have moved on from canceling Chappelle to trying to boycott Netflix in retaliation. Now, that messaging has changed again: The activists are demanding Netflix “adopt measures in the areas of content investment, employee relations and safety, and harm reduction, all of which are necessary to avoid future instances of platforming transphobia and hate speech.” Thus, they now want their scripts and ideas put into the Netflix library. The everchanging message has been getting a bit lost in translation, which is likely why there were few counter protestors who came to support Chappelle, believing the walkout was in an effort to still cancel the comedian. YouTuber Vito Gesualdi counter protested with a sign that read “We Like Dave” which was ripped from his hands and left being a wooden stick. Then, as showcased in the video below, the same activist who ripped Gesualdi’s sign from him shouted he had a weapon – being the now wooden stick.
— 🦃 Shawn Bird 🇺🇸 (@ShawnTheRuiner) October 20, 2021
The endgame results of yesterday’s walkout hasn’t seeped more into the media beyond the protest. Does this mean we’re likely heading towards resolution or will this be left to fade away as a blip in Netflix’s outstanding success? One person who isn’t taking the controversy seriously is Chappelle himself, who spoke on his most recent cancelation yesterday to a sold out crowd at London’s Eventim Apollo Theater. Among those at the sold-out show was an unnamed lesbian couple, who believe Chappelle isn’t homophobic and the entire situation is petty outrage. Social media still appears to be weighing in favor of Chappelle, as Netflix also continues to stand their ground against the activists.
Writer’s Note A: This is the opinion of one Instinct Magazine contributor and does not reflect the views of Instinct Magazine itself or fellow contributors.