Dave Chappelle is no stranger to controversy, but his new stand-up special The Closer has faced some especially fierce backlash. Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos has reportedly stood by the comedian after his comments, which included Chappelle declaring he was ‘team TERF.’
The acronym TERF means trans-exclusionary radical feminist, and in his Netflix special, Chappelle defended Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who has been accused of being transphobic.
Many have come out against the comedian, including Dear White People showrunner Jaclyn Moore, and trans Twitter user Terra Field who wrote a long thread on the subject, which has since gone viral.
Field, a Netflix employee, along with two others, have since been suspended for attempting to gatecrash a meeting.
Newsweek breaks down what Chappelle said and the response it has received.
What Did Dave Chappelle Say in his Netflix Special The Closer?
Chappelle is largely under fire for his comments about the trans community.
During his Netflix special, he commented that a trans woman’s genitalia is “not quite what it is” and declared himself to be “team TERF.”
He said: “Gender is a fact. Every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth. This is a fact.”
In The Closer, Chappelle told a long joke about a fight he had with a lesbian, referring to her as a man throughout the set-piece.
At a screening of the new show, speaking of attempts to have his special canceled, he said: “If this is what being is about, I love it.”
This is not the first time Chappelle has taken aim at the trans community, and in his first Netflix special, Equanimity, he spoke of how trans people “hate” him for his comments.
He has also made jokes in previous shows about R. Kelly’s abuse survivors.
What Have People Said About Dave Chappelle’s Special?
There have been many comments against Chappelle’s stand-up, including from Jaclyn Moore, the showrunner of Dear White People.
I love so many of the people I’ve worked with at Netflix. Brilliant people and executives who have been collaborative and fought for important art… But I’ve been thrown against walls because, “I’m not a ‘real’ woman.” I’ve had beer bottles thrown at me. So, @Netflix, I’m done. https://t.co/2naqrzW0G2
— Jaclyn Moore (@JaclynPMoore) October 7, 2021
She posted a thread of tweets online, expressing her disappointment at the decision to “put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.”
Moore said: “I told the story of my transition for @netflix and @most’s Pride week. It’s a network that’s been my home on @DearWhitePeople. I’ve loved working there.
“I will not work with them as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.”
“So when he says people should be mad a trans woman won a “Woman of the Year” award… When he misgenders… When he says he should’ve told that mother her daughter WAS A DUDE… I just can’t… I can’t be a part of a company that thinks that’s worth putting out and celebrating.”
“And then he ended his special with a “but I had a trans friend” story. He says we don’t listen. But he’s not listening. Those words have real world consequences. Consequences that every trans woman I know has dealt with. Bruises and panicked phone calls to friends. That’s real.”
“I love so many of the people I’ve worked with at Netflix. Brilliant people and executives who have been collaborative and fought for important art… But I’ve been thrown against walls because, “I’m not a ‘real’ woman.” I’ve had beer bottles thrown at me. So, @Netflix, I’m done.”
She also expressed how she was “crying” watching Chappelle’s stand-up special.
A trans employee at Netflix, Terra Field, also shared a damning thread, listing names of trans people who have been killed or suffered violence.
A source close to Netflix said Field attempted to gain access to a meeting along with two other colleagues, for which she was suspended. An investigation is ongoing.
Other reports have suggested Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos held a meeting where he defended the comedian due to his popularity and influence.
I work at @netflix. Yesterday we launched another Chappelle special where he attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness – all while trying to pit us against other marginalized groups. You’re going to hear a lot of talk about “offense”.
We are not offended 🧵
— Terra Field (@RainofTerra) October 7, 2021
A memo obtained by Variety reportedly read: “Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long standing deal with him. His last special “Sticks & Stones,” also controversial, is our most watched, stickiest and most award winning stand-up special to date.”
“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 said in a statement to Newsweek: “It is absolutely untrue to say that we have suspended any employees for tweeting about this show. Our employees are encouraged to disagree openly and we support their right to do so.”
Newsweek has contacted Chappelle for comment.
Dave Chappelle performing his Netflix stand-up show, “The Closer.”