About 100 people protested outside Netflix headquarters for the airing of a Dave Chappelle comedy special, rumored to be transphobic.
Netflix staff and transgender activists staged the strike outside the streaming giant’s Los Angeles offices.
Protesters asked Netflix to fund more trans and non-binary talent and other measures to avoid “transphobia and hate speech”.
Prior to the rally, Netflix released a statement in support of the activists.
A video was also released with several Netflix stars, including Queer Eye’s Jonathan Van Ness and The Good Place actress Jameela Jamil, thanking people for taking part in the demonstration.
Other LGBT celebrities, including Elliot Page and Lilly Wachowski, have expressed their support on social media.
Netflix has been mired in controversy over The Closer, in which cabaret star Chappelle claims that “gender is a fact” and that LGBT people are “too sensitive”.
Chappelle laughed at the backlash, recently saying, “If that’s what it means to be canceled, I love it.”
Netflix staff have called for the demonstration, although it is unclear how many of those employees were among the protesters outside the offices.
“We’re here today not because we don’t know how to take a joke. We’re here because we’re worried that jokes are taking lives,” rally organizer Ashlee Marie Preston said in an interview with AFP news agency.
He accused companies like Netflix of “[capitalising] out of tension “and using” algorithmic science to manipulate and distort our perceptions of ourselves and each other “.
According to Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental organization, forty-four transgender people were killed in the United States last year.
Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos previously defended the company’s decision to air the show.
In a leaked note from the staff, he insisted that “the content on the screen does not directly translate into actual damage” and stressed the importance of defending “artistic freedom”.
But in a subsequent interview with Hollywood commercial publication Deadline, Sarandos claimed that he “messed up internal communication.”
“I should have made sure I recognized that a group of our employees were in a lot of pain over the decision,” he added.
“I respect them deeply and love the contribution they have on Netflix. They were sick and I should have recognized that sooner.”
The protest comes a day after Netflix reported a record number of subscribers of 213.5 million globally.
What Big Tech really cares about
Some Silicon Valley companies have an annual turnover equivalent to the GDP of a medium-sized country.
They have an incredible influence all over the world.
Yet, in general, there is little accountability for the actions they take.
And would they argue why there should be? They are companies not governments.
This is why this type of strike is so interesting. Employees have the ability to focus minds in Silicon Valley.
There have been many strikes over the years, including at Google and Microsoft.
The key problem here is that Big Tech executives are deeply concerned about collective action.
Forget the confusing words about how to make the world a better place, they are companies that have shareholders who want to make money.
If workers are dissatisfied, they leave, (or worse) they organize, it could be bad for the company’s bottom line. This is when they take note.
Netflix has faced a lot of criticism for airing the Chappelle routine. However, it is the criticism of its employees – and the bad press it has generated – that the company will listen most carefully.
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