Following Media Support, the Dave Chappelle/Netflix Controversy Ends With a Whimper

(Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

After being told we must care about the outrage over Chappelle’s special, nothing was accomplished.

The press not only loves high drama and controversy, but the journalists also love to resort to condescension and derision towards the rabble who resist caring about a pet issue. A display of apathy is a sign of the uneducated rubes needing to be schooled on the way things should be, and if hatred and intolerance could be alleged, all the better. This behavior of reporting to broaden their own import was on full display with the contrived controversy over Dave Chappelle’s latest hour-long show, and it has led to absolutely nothing being accomplished.

Consider all of the outrages we were presented last month after the release of his standup special; attacks, hate, and intolerance were all said to be in the show, and the employees at Netflix were angry at their employer for fostering a transphobic message and creating a dangerous work environment. A protest was staged at the campus of the company, and the media broadcast all the complaints and ensuing demands in bold fashion.

Two names were prominent from within the company in the trans activism – Terra Field, and B. Pagels-Minor. Field was disciplined right after the outrage emerged, but it was later revealed to be over an internal action unrelated to the show. Pagels-Minor had been the force to orchestrate the walkout protest. Now, after a few weeks of relative calm things have gone silent. There were cracks in this facade of force, almost from the start.   

When the outrage was first percolating, the news of the protest was announced, but it quickly was showing signs of hyperbolic insistence. What was positioned as a mass walkout quickly became a promised crowd of “workers and supporters,” then the actual crowd diminished to mere dozens in the Netflix parking lot, and their numbers were nearly matched by those of the counter-protestors. 

The pronouncements that day were ridiculous because quickly dispatched were the outrages at Chappelle. In rapid fashion, suddenly the protest was about getting trans individuals more roles in Hollywood, making a safe work environment inside Netflix (all while no real harm or danger ever existed), and then they demanded that the trans individuals be given raises. They wanted to be treated as equals, all while making specific and special demands. Well, this has all culminated in very little happening, if anything at all.

Now, both individuals at the forefront of this outrage are gone from Netflix. Pagels-Minor was fired at the onset of the walkout for releasing proprietary company information. Field has now followed, by issuing a resignation letter, saying that the decision was done in support of the co-worker. Also of note is that a suit brought by them both alleging unfair labor practices has been dropped. It does not sound as if anything of significance has been achieved.

“My clients have resolved their differences with Netflix and will be voluntarily withdrawing their NLRB charge,” Laurie Burgess, a labor lawyer representing Pagels-Minor and Field, said. She declined to elaborate.

Considering all of the outrage and hysterics displayed for weeks in the press, you would expect something of merit to be noted. After the boisterous display and bold demands made against the company, you would not achieve your goals in activism and follow that up with a no-comment victory speech. This is a clear sign that little, if anything, was achieved. 

The histrionics on camera and the bold headlines on front pages has led to nothing of note taking place. But at least a large swath of the country was able to be insulted and told they were intolerant, all because…well now, I have no idea what the controversy was all about. Considering how much news space was dedicated to this story, you would expect something to come from the effort.