On Monday, the comedian — who's currently on a nationwide tour — shared a video of himself on-stage denying claims that he was unwilling to meet with trans Netflix employees or other members of the trans community.
"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," he said. "Although I am confused about what we would be speaking about."
Granted, Chappelle then went on to defend his comments by saying he "said what [he] said," while making a joke out of those advocating for a "safe working environment at Netflix" by saying, "It seems like I'm the only one that can't go to the office anymore." He also added that he would not be "summoned" and would not be "bending to anyone's demands," before listing a set of stipulations for the meeting.
"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," Chappelle said. He then went on to say they must also say comedian Hannah Gadsby — who recently spoke out against The Closer and Netflix's response to the controversy — was "not funny."
Chappelle then claimed "everyone [he knows from the LGBTQ+ community] has been "loving and supporting, so I don't know what all this nonsense is about," while telling fans to not "blame the LGBTQ community for any of this shit." Rather, he called the controversy a show of "corporate interests" more reflective of "what [he] can say and what [he] cannot say." He also touched on his upcoming documentary about his summer 2020 comedy tour and said it had been "disinvited" from film festivals due to the furor surrounding The Closer.
Chappelle's stand-up special has been widely criticized since its release for declaring himself "team TERF" in support of J.K. Rowling, as well as statements in which he calls gender "a fact," made fun of trans bodies and made light of past backlash surrounding his previous jokes about the LGBTQ+ community. The special was met with backlash from trans employees including software engineer, Terra Field, who was suspended alongside two other employees after crashing an executive meeting in protest of The Closer.
Following these developments, Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos issued a memo stating the company would not be removing the stand-up special, citing their "long-standing deal," Chappelle's popularity and the streamer's support of "creative freedom," even if some audience members found the content "harmful."
That said, while Field was eventually reinstated, Netflix's general handling of the controversy sparked an employee walk-out and demonstration outside of its Hollywood offices last week. Additionally, the company did end up firing a pregnant Black employee — who also happened to be a main organizer of the walkout — for leaking streaming metrics related to The Closer, according to the company.
Sarandos later told The Hollywood Reporter that he "screwed up" with his initial memo, but said he was trying to communicate the "challenge" of entertaining "audiences with various taste, various sensibilities, various beliefs."
Photo via Getty / Stacy Revere
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