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Dave Chappelle Says He's Willing to Listen to Trans Netflix Employees

Dave Chappelle

Is Dave Chappelle finally ready to listen?

After two weeks of controversy following some transphobic comments in his latest Netflix comedy special The Closer, dozens of Netflix employees staged a walkout this week, calling for action to be taken and demanding that trans people's voices be heard.

A spokesperson for yesterday’s walkout said that Chappelle was invited to do just that at the walkout, but said he couldn’t come. Chappelle’s representatives said that invitation never came, but now Chappelle would be willing to sit down and talk with any Netflix employees who felt hurt by his latest special.

“Dave stands by his art: no more jokes about transgenders until we can all laugh together,” an unidentified representative told TMZ. “The streets are talking and Dave is listening. At some point, when everyone is open, I’m sure the communities will come together.”

While both Chappelle and Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos initially said they wouldn’t back down about the special, tones have changed as more and more people have spoken out. On Wednesday, the company issued a letter of support to employees who wanted to take part in the walkout.

“We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that’s been caused,” a spokesperson for the company said. “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.”

Sarandos also apologized, but not for airing the special. He admitted that he made a mistake when he made an internal memo that said content doesn’t translate into real-world harm.

“I feel I should’ve made sure to recognize that a group of our employees was hurting very badly from the decision made, and I should’ve recognized upfront before going into a rationalization of anything the pain they were going through,” Sarandos said in an interview with Deadline. “I say that because I respect them deeply, and I love the contribution they have at Netflix. They were hurting, and I should’ve recognized that first.”

Sarandos, however, did reiterate that he stands by Chappelle’s special. “Stand-up comedy is a pretty singular voice art form,” he said. “The comedians will road test the material for some times two years before they record their special so we really don’t get involved and interfere with the material itself, and I think it’s consistent with a brand of stand-up comedy and certainly consistent with Dave Chappelle’s comedy, so I don’t think a warning card or an edit would’ve been appropriate.”

Hopefully, now that Chappelle is willing to listen, some resolution can come to this debate.

RELATED | 11 Trans Comedians We Love Who Are Way Funnier Than Dave Chappelle

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