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Comedian Dave Chappelle addresses Netflix transgender controversy in new video

Comedian Dave Chappelle on Monday addressed the transgender controversy at Netflix in a video on his Instagram account, five days after a protest near the streaming company’s Los Angeles headquarters.

The employee backlash began after Netflix Inc. decided to release Chappelle’s controversial new comedy special, The Closer, which critics have said ridicules transgender people. A group of employees rallied last week outside Netflix Inc.’s L.A. offices, where about 100 people, including activists, public figures and other supporters, gathered to protest the streaming giant’s decision. 

“It’s been said in the press that I was invited to speak to transgender employees at Netflix and I refused,” Chappelle said in the five-minute video recorded as he addressed an audience from the stage during a recent appearance. 

“That is not true. If they had invited me I would have accepted it. Although I am confused about what we are speaking about … You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. Well, it seems like I’m the only one that can’t go to the office anymore.”

“I want everyone in this audience to know that even though the media frames this as me versus that community, it’s not what it is,” Chappelle said. “Do not blame the LBGTQ community for any of this shit. This has nothing to do with them. It’s about corporate interest and what I can say and what I cannot say.”

Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos stoked further unrest with an Oct. 11 staff memo in which he acknowledged Chappelle’s provocative language in The Closer but said it did not cross the line into inciting violence.

In interviews before the walkout, Sarandos acknowledged “I screwed up” in how he spoke to Netflix’s staff about the special.

People attend a rally in support of the Netflix transgender employee walkout in Los Angeles, Calif. on Oct. 20, 2021. Dave Chapelle addressed the controversy on his Instagram account five days after the protest. (Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

In Chappelle’s Instagram video, he said that after the controversy he began getting disinvited from film festivals that had initially accepted a documentary he made last summer, and that he is now making that documentary available in ten American cities.

“Thank God for Ted Sarandos and Netflix,” Chappelle said. “He’s the only one who didn’t cancel me yet.”

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