By Rachel Shewfelt
The comedian has been under fire since the Oct. 5 release of the show, which so offended the transgender community that GLAAD condemned it and employees of the streaming service walked out in protest last week. In it, Chappelle said, “Gender is a fact,” and he defended Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who has been accused of being transphobic. Employees who walked out had called for the company to take measures that would keep Netflix from promoting misinformation about trans and nonbinary communities in the future.
On Monday, he posted a clip from a post-The Closer performance, which clarified his stance on the meeting: “It’s been said in the press that I was invited to speak to the transgender employees at Netflix, and I refused. That is not true,” Chappelle said. “If they had invited me, I would have accepted it, although I am confused about what we’re speaking about. I said what I said, and boy I heard what you said. My god. How could I not? You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. Well, it seems like I’m the only one that can’t go to the office anymore.”
He asked the audience not to blame the LGBTQ+ community.
“I want everyone in this audience to know that, even though the media frames us that it’s me versus that community, that is not what it is. Let’s not blame the LGBT community for any of this shit,” he said. “This has nothing to do with them. It’s about corporate interests and what I can say and what I cannot say. For the record, and I need you to know this, everyone I know from that community has been nothing but loving and supportive, so I don’t know what all this nonsense is about.”
He explained what it would take for him to sit down with his critics, and it involved Hannah Gadsby, another comedian who slammed Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos — who defended Chappelle’s “artistic expression” after the special debuted. (Sarandos used Gadsby, a member of the LGBTQ+ community, as an example of why Chappelle’s show would not be removed; there was diversity, he said. Gadsby responded by telling him, in no uncertain terms, to leave her out of the debate.)
“To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience,” Chappelle said. “But you will not summon me. I am not bending to anybody’s demands. And if you want to meet with me, I’d be more than willing to, but I have some conditions. First of all, you cannot come if you have not watched my special from beginning to end. You must come to a place of my choosing at a time of my choosing. And thirdly, you must admit that Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”
The comedian spoke about some of the consequences that he has seen over the past three weeks. For instance, he said interest in Untitled, the documentary he made about the murder of George Floyd, has been greatly reduced.
“This film that I made was invited to every film festival in the United States. Some of those invitations I accepted, and when this controversy came out, about The Closer, they began disinviting me from these film festivals,” Chappelle said. “And now, today, not a film company, not a movie studio, not a film festival, nobody will touch this film. Thank God for Ted Sarandos at Netflix. He’s the only one that didn’t cancel me yet.”
So, Chappelle said he is taking his movie to 10 U.S. cities, with tickets going on sale in the next few days. According to Live Nation, cellphones won’t be allowed.