I’ve been a Netflix subscriber since 2003, back when they were a DVD by mail company. Overall, I’ve been happy with their service even when the streaming options were tepid at best. However, I’ve been struggling more lately with their support of controversial comedians like Dave Chappelle. I used to be a fan of Dave Chappelle’s but I can no longer laugh at his casually cruel jokes against Jewish people, women, gay and transgender people. Chappelle punches down and it’s not funny.
Voting with my wallet
Chappelle’s latest Netflix special, “The Closer” finally crossed a line that I couldn’t ignore. In it he defends JK Rowling’s transphobia and states that gender is a fact and aligns himself with TERFS (trans-exclusionary radical feminists). “I’m team TERF!” he claims proudly. Chappelle also often spouts misogyny, so he’s hardly any type of feminist. Why join a group of people who seek to harm one of our most vulnerable communities? Both JK Rowling and Dave Chappelle have enormous influence over people. When they spout anti-transgender speech, people listen and think it’s okay for them to discriminate as well. Are they free to do this? Of course they are. I’m also free to stop paying to listen to it.
I contacted Netflix through a live chat. It was the only way I could find to contact them regarding their content other than calling them on the phone. They had no email or contact form to address these types of concerns.
I was unhappy with the exchange. The customer service representative gave rote answers that offered up tools to help me filter out content I found objectionable. They also stated that they are a “global company serving a wide range of tastes, beliefs, and interests”. They referenced “creative freedom” several times. “While we believe in creative freedom, we at Netflix respect all faiths and religions and do not intend to disrespect the beliefs or feelings of any person, community, religion, or society and its culture, customs, practices and traditions.” It all seemed like an excuse to discriminate. In the end, it felt like, “Sorry you are offended. Get over it snowflake.”
So after 18 years, I’m saying good-bye to Netflix. There are many other streaming options now. I realized I rarely even watch it anymore. The original content from Apple, Hulu and Disney is superior. The only thing I may miss is “Stranger Things” but that’s not a huge loss. I may only be one customer, but it feels good to stop funding discrimination.
Since writing this post, I’ve read several opinion pieces by people directly affected by Chappelle’s words and Netflix’s callous response. They are worth a read to see why words matter and how they cause real damage, particularly when they are said by people in positions of power. People will get hurt physically; people will die because of these words. Chappelle’s “friend” who was transgender died by taking her own life. Her family calls him an ally. Allies don’t make fun of vulnerable people. Allies stand up for them. Dave Chappelle is no ally. He’s a bully and Netflix is his enabler.
- “Dave Chappelle’s ‘The Closer’ Netflix special is no laughing matter to LGBTQ people like me.” by Michael Crawford, NBC News
- “Dave Chappelle’s Betrayal” by Saeed Jones, GQ