Freedom of expression or hate speech? Netflix in the eye of the LGBTQ storm

Netflix immersed itself in the culture wars of the United States with a special by the comedian Dave Chappelle described as a transphobic by employees of the company itself and that has added more to the debate on the limits of freedom of expression.

In “The Closer”, Chappelle, a celebrated comedian, affirms that “gender is a fact” and argues that LGBTQ people are “too susceptible”.

“In Our country can shoot and kill a black man, but it is better not to hurt the feelings of a gay person “, says the comedian, who is black.

Although the program has been condemned by LGBTQ groups, including GLAAD, which cited studies linking stereotypes about minority attacks in the real world to, Netflix has been adamant that it will not be removed.

The streaming giant will is at the center of his probably most intense controversy to date.

Chappelle remains very popular, at a time when Net flix competes with rivals such as HBO and Disney in the so-called streaming wars.

For this last proposal it obtained a disbursement of 24 million dollars from Netflix.

This controversy raises broader questions about the role of entertainment giants like Netflix in spreading messages to society.

“Netflix is ​​no longer a small company, is a huge content maker that last year spent around 17. 000 million dollars, “said Stephen Galloway, dean of film and television. multimedia arts from California-based Chapman University in.

This is the first case that Netflix is ​​at the center of a controversy over freedom of expression, and “has raised a flag in front of the word limitation “, I pointed.

” Face to face “

In” The Closer “, Chappelle stages an American rapper who makes fun of AIDS and the LGBT community, compares trans women blackface with, us or make-up to characterize a black person, and jokes about threatening to kill a woman and hide her body in her car.

In a memo that was leaked to the press, the head of content company manager, Ted Sarandos, claims that “screen content does not translate directly into the real world” and that Chappelle’s show is popular and represents an important expression of artistic freedom.

But a group of Netflix employees plans to take a crackdown next week to protest against their bosses for endorsing Chappelle’s proposal.

A worker was fired for leaking internal data on the rate charged by the comedian.

“We understand that this employee may have been motivated by the disappointment and pain that Netflix would have caused him, but maintaining a culture of trust and transparency is fundamental to our company,” he said. the company in a statement sent to AFP.

Sarandos defended the Chappelle’s presence on Netflix and recalled that the channel also features artists like Hannah Gadsby, whose acclaimed special “Nanette” recounted her horrific experiences of homophobic violence as a lesbian woman.

That earned her a loaded response. of Gadsby’s expletives on Instagram.

“We’re seeing Netflix leaders go head-to-head with some of their employees,” Galloway said.

“Cundo says Ryan Murphy that this is unacceptable? “He asked, referring to the LGBTQ-themed hitmaker as” Pose, “who has a 300 million dollar deal to make shows for Netflix.


Chappelle’s case is even more complicated because, although he is accused of harassing a The vulnerable minority, the comic repeatedly points out during the program that he is a member of another, the African American.

“The special draws its energy from one of the hottest debates in popular culture, about claims against of victimization “, Helen Lewis wrote in The Atlantic.

The Chappelle case recalls the controversy unleashed last year by the author of” Harry Potter “, JK Rowling, who defended the reality of sex biological, an opinion many considered transphobic. years while blacks haven’t been able to achieve them in decades.

“There are multiple fractures here,” Galloway said. “Anyone could generate an earthquake.”