“To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience, but you will not summon me. I am not bending to anyone’s demands.”
Dave Chappelle responded to critics of his controversial Netflix comedy special, The Closer, in a five-minute video shared to his Instagram feed on Monday.
Chappelle said that he would meet with transgender Netflix employees offended by the special, but that he won’t be “bending to anybody’s demands.”
“To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience, but you will not summon me. I am not bending to anyone’s demands,” Chappelle said in the clip, filmed onstage during a stand-up set.
The Closer led to a walkout at Netflix by transgender employees after a trans software engineer, Terra Field, was suspended after attacking Chappelle on Twitter.
Chappelle appeared unapologetic about his remarks in the IG clip, saying, “I said what I said.
“It’s been said in the press that I was invited to speak to the transgender employees of Netflix and I refused. That is not true — if they had invited me I would have accepted it, although I am confused about what we would be speaking about,” Chappelle continued.
“I said what I said, and boy, I heard what you said. My God, how could I not? You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. It seems like I’m the only one that can’t go to the office anymore.”
Chappelle continued: “And if you want to meet with me, I am more than willing to, but I have some conditions … First of all, you cannot come if you have not watched my special from beginning to end. You must come to a place of my choosing at a time of my choosing, and thirdly, you must admit that Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”
Chappelle went on to explain that “the media frames it that it’s me versus that community, that is not what it is. Do not blame the LBGTQ community for any of this shit.
“This has nothing to do with [the LGBTQ community]. It’s about corporate interests and what I can say and what I cannot say,” Chappelle said. “For the record, and I need you to know this, everyone I know from that community has been loving and supporting, so I don’t know what all this nonsense is about.”
Chappelle then revealed that the upcoming documentary about his summer 2020 comedy tour has been rejected from film festivals as a result of the controversy.
“This film that I made was invited to every film festival in the United States and some of those invitations I accepted. When this controversy came out about The Closer, they began disinviting me from these film festivals.
“And now, today, not a film company, not a movie studio, not a film festival, nobody will touch this film. Thank God for Ted Sarandos and Netflix, he’s the only one that didn’t cancel me yet.”
In a memo sent to Netflix employees earlier this month, Sarandos said the streamer will not remove the special. Gadsby slammed both Sarandos and Chappelle for their response.
“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,” Netflix’s CEO wrote.
The New York Post has more details about the backlash from Netflix employees:
Earlier this month, Netflix suspended a trans senior software engineer, Terra Field, who slammed Chappelle for his humor about trans people in a viral Twitter thread. The company later said Field was suspended not for the tweets but instead for barging in on an executives-only meeting, along with two others. Field has since been reinstated “after finding there was no ill-intent” in her attendance, she posted.
Netflix co-CEO Sarandos has stuck by the company’s decision to host the show — but admitted last week that he “screwed up” in the way he communicated the decision to company staff.