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Netflix announces Dave Chappelle as upcoming festival headliner despite ongoing controversy

Dave Chappelle, Netflix, transgender, employee walkout
Dave ChappellePhoto: Netflix screenshot

It seems in the eyes of Netflix, Dave Chappelle can do no wrong. The streaming service continues to throw its support behind the comedian who has repeatedly perpetuated transphobia and anti-LGBTQ sentiment.

Despite the controversy surrounding Chappelle’s Netflix special The Closer – he announced he is a transgender exclusionary radical feminist (TERF) before launching into a derogatory diatribe about transgender women’s genitals – Netflix recently announced he will be one of the headliners for its comedy festival, “Netflix is a Joke: The Festival,” taking place in Los Angeles in April and May.

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Netflix has stood by Chappelle since fury first erupted over his statements in The Closer.

In the midst of the outrage, CEO Ted Sarandos said the streaming service would not remove the special because Chappelle was simply too popular to ditch.

The company also fired a Black, pregnant, transgender employee, B. Pagels-Minor, who was organizing the October 20 walkout in protest of Chappelle, claiming they leaked metrics about the special to the media.

Netflix suspended another trans employee, Terra Field, who had been speaking out against the special, and claimed it was because she had attempted to attend a meeting held by directors that she was not supposed to attend.

Netflix subsequently reversed the suspension when they admitted that a director had invited Field to the meeting prior, but Field ultimately resigned.

In the meantime, Chappelle has continued to defend himself and complain about being “cancelled,” all while continuing to book gigs and denigrate LGBTQ people.

“I said what I said, and boy, I heard what you said,”  Chappelle told the audience in a recent live performance he posted. “My God, how could I not. You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. Well, it seems like I am the only one that can’t go to the office anymore.”

Chappelle also emphasized his refusal to change.

“To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience,” he said, “but you will not summon me. I am not bending to anybody’s demands.”

Then, in late November, despite promising to stop punching down on the LGBTQ community, he did so yet again during a performance at Madison Square Garden.

There, Chappelle used an anti-gay slur and make jokes about his relationship with the trans community and pronouns.

“Week four of being canceled,” he sighed before talking about a racist neighbor who had shown up at his door. His wife gave him a gun to protect himself and he joked that “faggot” would be the last word the man said to him.

And if he was sent to prison for killing him, he added, he would simply identify as a woman so jail wouldn’t be as difficult.

He said that he had offered to pay for therapy or rehab for his neighbor but didn’t want the news getting out so that transgender people didn’t show up on his doorstep asking for his help to pay for surgeries.

Chappelle, it seems, has learned nothing and feels no remorse, yet Netflix continues to prop him up.

“Our hard won rights for equality are slowly being eroded,” one person wrote on Twitter in response to the news that Chappelle would headline the comedy festival. “Change doesn’t happen at once, it’s made of small shifts throughout years. Enabling a hater and giving them a stage is deepening that direction.”

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