The Chappelle/Netflix Protests Are Not About Offenses, as They Turn Racist and Leverage Demands

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

If the issue is about preventing hateful narratives why are Netflix protestors using hate speech?

The media is all excited that the newest social outrage has swelled up in our culture. This is a two-pronged gift for journalists, as it means they get to stoke outrage and division once again, AND it gives them a pass from covering the important news of inflation, supply chain failures, or those left behind in Afghanistan. (Say, remember that story?) Well, those trivialities can be set aside, because there was a comedian who said stuff that some people don’t like!

The Dave Chappelle protests taking place at Netflix are as asinine an outrage as there is, and the activists who are demanding to be heard are saying things that actually demand to be ignored. Understand first, in order for these people to be so affected by this standup routine they have to choose to be offended. Watching the special is not compulsory, you have to seek out the programming, and you have to do so on a subscription platform. This is like being told there is a toxic pond deep in the woods, and then hiking miles to find it so you can take a dip and become poisoned.

If you have not seen the routine, Chappelle actually spent time saying provocative things about a number of social groups, and he even predicted this reaction would derive from the trans community. The overriding message is that the comments Chappelle made were hateful, and violent, and caused harm and injury…somehow. The closest anyone can seem to come with providing examples of this harm is the claim that his comments could lead to violence someday. They want to say he is guilty of a crime that may occur.

But the first sign of problems with this protest is seen from the press. As I covered in my media column at Townhall, Oliver Darcy was critical of a paper for hyping the state employees in Washington who quit due to vaccine mandates. Since the total of those quitting was “only” three percent, he declared it “bizarre that at this juncture some major news outlets are still missing the obvious framing on these stories.” And yet, there was Darcy’s own CNN hyping the protest at Netflix. They touted how there would be hundreds of employees and supporters, while the company employs over 12,000. 

Netflix
AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File

That appears an equal amount of bizarre framing, Ollie. Then it got worse, as the New York Times reported it was dozens of employees who walked out. So already the press is tilting the scales. Then reporters chose to overlook something rather remarkable. There is no talk whatsoever of racism behind this outrage. 

You have mostly white people — gazing over the crowd at the protest — demanding that a black entertainer be silenced. That we are not hearing any peals of outrage from the press or black leaders says plenty. Then you have this group appropriating their signature line; signs were seen and chants heard repeating “Trans Lives Matter.” How is this suddenly excused? Last year anyone saying All Lives Matter or any variation was shouted down for diluting the message and interfering with the intentions. But more than these interpretational racial offenses were the actual racist words heard yesterday.

 Here is the video feed from the protest, with numerous interviews of those in attendance.

At about the 22-minute mark there is a discussion with one individual who is non-binary, discussing all the items they are protesting and standing in solidarity with those in numerous categories. The oblivious aspect is that they are protesting against someone in those same categories. These protestors are stepping into a minefield, and pulling the press along with them, where at some point, you need to prioritize which aggrieved group is offended by the other aggrieved group. If Black Lives matter, and Trans Lives matter, which matters more? As they have established, we cannot have an All Lives matter moment, so choices need to be made. 

One speaker was Ashley Marie Preston, and she declared that Chappelle was not a focus, saying “we are not even here to acknowledge him.” So the protest about Chappelle’s show is leading them to protest, but it is NOT about him. Then she said something truly inflammatory. (start at the 26-minute mark)

 “Since he can’t do the right thing, then I’m here to talk to his master today, and that is the people who signs his paycheck.” 

Now, Preston is a POC individual, so this is not blatant racism, we have to suppose, as these are rather fluid rules. But to suggest a man worth millions is somehow a slave derails their entire message. This would imply that Chappelle is only saying what he is told to say, by his master, so he cannot be accountable, correct? Except he has a rather noted history of not being a sellout, and he has said these are exactly the kind of comments he knew would be arriving after his show aired.

AP/Reuters Feed Library

The thing that presents the biggest challenge to this group is that Netflix is not your conventional content provider. You cannot extort from them by leveraging against advertisers; those do not exist. And as for damaging their brand, it is tough to do when the company is currently soaring. Last week, the New York Times attempted to suggest Netflix would be reeling from this controversy, that the company “Loses its glow” as a result. This is simply more wishing by the press.

Despite a slew of new streaming competitors, Netflix just surpassed 200 million subscribers. They also just enjoyed an Emmy ceremony where they walked off with 44 trophies. The acquired show “Squid Game” is a #1 program in dozens of nations worldwide. On top of that, the company has its name in the press countless times every day at the moment, as a result of this controversial comedy special. If there is any loss of glow it is because the company has moved up to be a firmament.

For a time, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos was not affected by the outrage, saying they would not be removing the show. He has recently, though, softened that stance, saying he actually made an error in his previous comments. This was a mistake because now he has cracked open the door for the activists to rush in with what their true demands can be. As Preston said about his contrition, “While we appreciate the acknowledgment of the screw-up, in his own words, we want to actually talk about what that repair looks like.”

The Mayor of West Hollywood spoke and she used that sign of weakness from Sarandos to launch into the real purpose of the protest. “It was one thing that you admitted you had screwed up – and it was a screwup. But admitting that and not creating change does nothing.  Now is the time to make substantive change, by listening to the asks that are made, and making sure that you do them.”

And what are these asks? She called for more trans content and characters to be played by trans performers. The trans and non-binary employees should feel safe at work; how they are currently not safe is, of course, not detailed. Then Blossom Brown spoke about far more than offensive language. 

Brown railed against the  “capitalistic structure that is trying to keep us down.” I am relatively certain Netflix would not have been created in a socialist environment where they could earn some of the highest salaries in Los Angeles. Then this speaker who railed against capitalism called for more money. “Give your trans employees a raise – right now!” Huh. And here I thought it was all about being offended by bad jokes. 

AP/Reuters Feed Library

While the claim initially was a fight against intolerance, very quickly things pivoted away from Chapelle and became a list of demands which all have nothing at all to do with the content of his standup routine. Almost sounds as if the trans activists want to use outrage at Dave Chappelle in order to get to a higher plane. Stepping all over a black individual who you have reduced to being a slave, in order to pocket some extra lucre — now that sounds rather intolerant and hateful, to be perfectly honest.

Hopefully, Netflix understands what they are prone to allow. The company has shown a degree of mettle so far. The organizer of this very protest was fired, once it was learned that internal documents had been leaked to the press. It would appear that despite the boost from the media, these activists attempting to walk all over Chappelle are not standing in a position of strength.