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For Netflix, the situation is unprecedented: several dozen employees called on their colleagues to go on strike, Wednesday, October 20, to demand the stopping of the broadcasting of the one-on-stage by American comedian Dave Chappelle, entitled The Closer and uploaded to the streaming platform earlier this month.

The American group spent $ 24.1 million (20.7 million euros) to exclusively produce the seventy-two-minute one-man-show, the latest in a series of six that Dave Chappelle began in 2017. More than ten million views were counted by Netflix ten days after the release of the program, 95% approved by the vote of Internet users on the site aggregating reviews Rotten Tomatoes.

Internally, The Closer has never been unanimous. Before its broadcast, revealed the Bloomberg press agency, several employees communicated to Netflix management their concerns about the content of the show: in question, a speech often considered transphobic and homophobic, capable of provoking and accentuating discrimination against the LGBTQ + community.

For twenty-five years, Dave Chappelle has built his career on a sarcastic and often corrosive humor around relations between whites and blacks in the United States. “If you listen to what I say, my problem has always been white people”, does he assume in The Closer, under the laughter of his audience, just after having defended himself to have ever had “A problem with transgender people”. The entire sole-on-stage turns like this, alternating brutal jokes and reminders of his sincere tolerance.

No content “inciting violence or hatred” allowed

He denies, in a sketch, having hit, at a party, a lesbian woman because of her homosexuality – “I didn’t even know it was a woman!” ” – before recounting at length, in another, his friendship with a transgender person, who appreciated his humor and whose suicide after many discriminations touched him a lot. All strewn with clichés about “communities” (black, white, gay, transgender …) often ridiculed and necessarily uniform.

“Gays are a minority until the moment when they need to become white again”, he also launches, recounting his altercation with a homosexual in a bar in Texas. There is a motif already used by Dave Chappelle in his previous one-man-show, Sticks & Stones : comparison of the claims of designated minorities – and the recognition of their discrimination by society. “In our country, you can shoot a black man and kill him, but you had better not offend a gay person. It is precisely the disparity that I wish to discuss ”, he explains in the introduction.

These rare sightings in a show “Covered in stupidity”, as the author Roxane Gay writes in a column published by the New York Times, have not reduced the anger of LGBTQ + rights groups. “To maintain transphobia is to maintain violence”, accused David Johns, the director of the National Black Justice Coalition, denouncing the broadcast of the only-in-scene by Netflix. “Netflix rules say that ‘violence or hate’ content is not allowed on the platform, but we all know that is exactly what anti-LGBTQ content does.”, valued Glaad, an NGO specializing in monitoring media treatment of these issues.

Netflix reaffirms its support for Chappelle

Within Netflix, three people requesting the withdrawal of the show were briefly suspended, in particular for breaking into a videoconference meeting of executives to which they should not have access. An employee, at the origin of the call for the walkout on Wednesday, was fired for having communicated to Bloomberg confidential indicators of the success of the one-man-shows of Chappelle on Netflix – we learned in particular that the ” value ” brought by Sticks & Stones was valued at $ 19.4 million by the company, less than the $ 23.6 million invested in its production.

In the face of the sling, Netflix’s management continued to support, wholeheartedly, Dave Chappelle. “Although some employees disagree, we believe that what is seen on a screen does not translate directly into consequences in the real world”, writes the director general of the contents of the platform, Ted Sarandos, in an internal note relayed by the New York Times. “We are working hard to ensure that low visibility communities are not defined by a single representation [dans nos contenus], he assured in another message, a few days earlier, citing other Netflix productions Sex Education, Young royals, Control Z and Disclosure.

In the American liberal magazine The Atlantic, journalist Helen Lewis navigates between the two positions, comparing Dave Chappelle’s show to a “Rorschach test”, in front of which each spectator would give a different definition of an object difficult to qualify. “Are Dave Chappelle’s jokes funny or hurtful?” The two. People can be both, estimates Mme Lewis. Sometimes the ink stain does not take a sharp outline. It remains, like life, in disorder. “

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