Dave Chappelle says he’s open to meeting with Netflix employees

The comedian's latest special "The Closer" is responsible for a firestorm that has pitted Netflix staff against its leaders.

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Dave Chappelle‘s Netflix comedy special The Closer ignited a wave of controversy following its Oct. 6 release over comments the comedian made about the LGBTQ+ community. Employees of the streaming service staged a virtual walkout Wednesday in response to leadership’s handling of employees who were offended by the special; now, the comedian himself said he’s willing to have a meeting with employees who have voiced concerns.

Reps for Chappelle informed TMZ Thursday that he would be open to dialogue if Netflix actually reach out to him.

“Dave’s camp says no one from Netflix has approached Chappelle or his team about setting up a meeting or conversation … which is the opposite of what the woman who organized the Netflix walkout claims,” according to TMZ.

Trans activist Ashlee Marie Preston claimed that she invited the entertainer to discuss the adverse impact that the special has had on her and other members of the LGBTQ+ community. However, Preston said, “Dave chose not to show up.”

While his reps contest that account of events, they are now clarifying that the 48-year-old comedian is open to have the conversation with not just Netflix but any group that has concerns about his content. Reps also underscored that they are requesting that the empathy goes both ways if and when those talks take place.

A partial apology

Ted Sarandos, co-CEO of Netflix, refuses to remove The Closer despite the planned employee walkout. He did, however, admit that he “screwed up” his response to the employees.

Sarandos explained to Variety how he should have handled the pushback from company workers who criticized Chappelle’s special of being transphobic. He initially sent a memo to Netflix employees, explaining why he wasn’t going to have the special pulled.

“What I should have led with in those emails was humanity,” Sarandos said. “I should have recognized the fact that a group of our employees was really hurting.”

In the memo, Sarandos stated, “Netflix has a policy that content ‘designed to incite hate or violence’ is not allowed on the platform, but we all know that anti-LGBTQ content does exactly that. Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate. We don’t allow titles Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe ‘The Closer’ crosses that line.”

Although he initially stated that he felt that Chappelle’s jokes don’t “incite hate or violence” in the memo, Sarandos clarified that point. “To be clear, storytelling has an impact in the real world…sometimes quite negative,”

“We have articulated to our employees that there are going to be things you don’t like. There are going to be things that you might feel are harmful. But we are trying to entertain a world with varying tastes and varying sensibilities and various beliefs, and I think this special was consistent with that,” he said.

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