The great Union general William Tecumseh Sherman once said, “War is the remedy that our enemies have chosen, and I say let us give them all they want.”
War with Dave Chappelle may not have been Netflix’s aim, but given that the company has now allowed itself to be used as a weapon by a few trans-activists determined to exert their will over the legendary comedian and his art form, Chappelle should give them all the war they want.
For a moment, about a week after his special, “The Closer,” dropped, it looked like the streaming giant might have enough integrity to stand by their man. When a trio of unhinged, low-level trans employees leaked confidential financial information to the press and tried to crash meetings above their pay grade, Netflix execs calmly fired the worst offender and suspended the others. When a few more staffers waxed histrionic on internal communication channels, co-CEO Ted Sarandos informed them their antics would not be indulged.
“Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today,” he said in defense of the special, adding, “As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom…We don’t allow titles that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe ‘The Closer’ crosses that line…stand-up comedy [exists] to push boundaries.”
Sarandos added that he did not believe Chappelle’s jokes that include observations like “gender is a fact” are harmful to the transgender community.
Sarandos’ co-CEO Reed Hastings echoed this commitment to free speech, saying in an internal memo, “I do believe that our commitment to artistic expression and pleasing our members is the right long term choice for Netflix, and that we are on the right side [of history].”
Further pressed by a disgruntled employee about whether Netflix would commit to more trans-promoting programming to act as a counterweight to Chappelle’s supposed bigotry, Hastings replied, “We disagree with your characterization and we’ll continue to work with Dave Chappelle in the future. We see him as a unique voice …” He concluded, “We do not see Dave Chappelle as harmful, or in need of any offset.”
From there, there was no reason for Netflix to back down. A few C-list, faux-intellectual personalities like lesbian spoken-word artist Hannah Gadsby (name might ring a distant bell) and “Dear White People” producer Jaclyn Moore (is that a show?) might have carped, but the real star power was firmly behind comedy’s GOAT.
Brad Pitt. Snoop Dogg. Jon Hamm. Stevie Wonder. A-listers who need no introduction were happy to give him a standing ovation at the Hollywood Bowl in the middle of the dustup. The message was clear: Tinsel Town’s heaviest hitters won’t make a fuss, Netflix, if you support Chappelle.
Contrast that to the few Netflix “stars” protesting against him. Would Netflix truly have lost so much if “Queer-Eye’s” resident “grooming expert” Jonathan Van Ness (who?) decided to take his next hair-dresser reality show elsewhere?
Apparently Sarandos thought so. A week after taking a hard line for free speech, he changed his tune, telling The Wall Street Journal, “I screwed up. What I should have led with in those emails was humanity. I should have recognized the fact that a group of our employees was really hurting.”
Really hurting. All because someone they don’t know and were never compelled to interact with or watch dared to say that J.K. Rowling and self-avowed feminists like her aren’t bigots for believing biology is real.
When these attention-seeking staffers finally staged a walkout Wednesday, Netflix did everything but arrange catering trucks for them, putting out a statement saying, “We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that’s been caused. We respect the decision of any employee who chooses to walk out, and recognize we have much more work to do both within Netflix and in our content.”
And just like that, Netflix showed itself subservient to a lunatic fringe whose influence is so inconsequential they couldn’t muster more than a few dozen protestors for their “Stand Up in Solidarity” rally, despite being the beneficiaries of hundreds if not thousands of sympathetic media reports.
One so-called “Diversity Equity and Inclusion” (DEI) expert told Business Insider the Netflix walkout showed that the company’s leadership “hadn’t been engaging in enough conversations with employees or consumers from marginalized communities.”
No, what it shows is that leadership has been engaging with them too much. Now, ten to 20 troublemakers (at most) among Netflix’s more than 12,000 employees think they should be able to disrupt business and deprive the company’s customer base of content they overwhelmingly want because they disagree with a few offhand comments.
Consider the abject immaturity of this group: Like teenage drama queens who can’t abide reminders of their prettier, more popular rival, they have demanded that Netflix purge Chappelle’s image, “including murals and posters,” from the office walls. What serious cause issues an edict like this? Will they clamor for Sarandos to draw mustaches on Chappelle’s yearbook pictures next? Ask him to make a Chappelle slam book? These are the antics of self-absorbed children who have spotted a weakness and are now reveling in a petty sense of power with the glee of any playground bully.
Yet these are the children — flouncing about the streets in ball gowns, pearls, and headdresses, larping at persecution — to whom the titan of the streaming revolution has bent its knee. It would be a comedy sketch in itself if it weren’t all so pathetic.
Though the most generous estimates show transgenders make up one half of one percent of the population, the many series, films, and documentaries Netflix has dedicated to their subculture — so many, news outlets recognize the platform as being a “pioneer of representation” and “champion of diversity” — is not enough for them. The fact that GLAAD’s most recent report found that Netflix “counts the highest number of LGBTQ regular and recurring characters” among the major streaming services is not enough for them.
That fraction of a single percent cannot tolerate that there yet remains some mainstream form of entertainment that has yet to kowtow to their whims, that isn’t afraid to include their group in the common human experience of being an occasional object of stereotype humor. (Note, no one has taken the slightest umbrage at “The Closer’s” jokes at the expense of white women.)
They dare accuse Chappelle of “punching down”? Who, given the cringing obeisance trans activists elicit from every corner of the Western cultural landscape, could sit any higher?
The farce of seeing these men in false eyelashes and garish, streaked blush out in front of Netflix’s Los Angeles headquarters highlights the truth hidden in one of Chappelle’s most scathing punchlines. “I can’t help thinking,” he quips toward the end of the show, “that if slaves had had baby oil and booty shorts, [they] might have been free a hundred years sooner.”
The point, of course, is that the trans movement has co-opted the real oppression racial and religious minorities have historically endured, so much so, one of this farce’s leaders claimed that trans people hearing jokes they don’t like about themselves is akin to being the victims of a holocaust.
Few pop culture figures have the stature and temerity to name this madness for what it is. Chappelle does.
Midway through “The Closer,” he performs a bit about the #MeToo movement, highlighting the ineffectual, trivial nature of Hollywood activism, where everything is performative and concerned more with promoting one’s personal brand that effecting change:
The way they handled [their activism] was stupid. They were doing sh** like going to the Golden Globes and all of them would be like ‘Let’s all go to the Golden Globes and wear black dresses and give these men a piece of our mind.’
You think Martin Luther King was like ‘I want everybody to keep riding the bus, but wear matching outfits’? You gotta get off the bus and walk. Real talk, that was a silly movement…
And I said something about it in one of my specials and all these women actresses came after me … They were like, “Who is he to tell us anything?” I’ll tell you exactly who I am. I’m the one that got off the bus and left $50 million on the bus and walked.
Chappelle’s right. He did get off the bus in 2006 in a show of force against Comedy Central and other networks that coerce talent into signing their life’s work away. Now that Netflix has thrown him under another one, it’s time for him to do it again. Comedy and the liberty it depends on needs a hero to strike a decisive blow for free expression and sanity.
To accomplish this, all Dave Chappelle need do is refuse to work with platforms that express shame over partnering with him and get loud about why he’s choosing an outlet that will support his voice without apology. His fans will follow him anywhere.
Then, all he needs to do is keep fearlessly making us laugh.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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