Cutting The Cor... er... Netflix??
In the grand scheme of things I am but one lowly former-subscriber whose cancellation will ultimately not make a damn bit of difference to your bottom line. I cannot, however, continue to support a company that will actively promote, defend, and excuse transphobia as a “form of artistic expression”.
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How Did We Get Here?
Dave Chapelle has had six specials with Netflix, with his most recent one premiering last week. His first Netflix special contained some transphobic jokes, so being 2017 the internet responded and basically said “Hey Dave, you know it’s 2017 now. Making fun of trans people isn’t cool and has real world consequences, can you not?”
Of course he took that to mean “I’M BEING CANCELLED!!! YOU CAN’T TELL ME WHAT I CAN OR CAN NOT JOKE ABOUT!!! THEY’RE JUST JOKES GROW A THICKER SKIN”, so he doubled, tripled, and ultimately sextupled (is that the word for this) down on making sure people hear his thoughts on “the misguided trans people”.
Now I’m not here to discuss “Cancel Culture”, or the fact that he claims he was bullied by the “trans community” online after his first special. Was he? I have no idea, but proba-fucking-ly. Do I agree with bullying in any form? No. However when trans people hear the same jokes again and again that actively contribute to real world violence and murder of trans people, it can kinda be a bit of a sensitive topic.
So rather than trying to understand why trans jokes are wrong and in poor taste, he went all in on belittling trans people, all while claiming that he was “cancelled” as he was given a platform six times by Netflix and $20 Million per special. That’s a damn funny kind of “cancellation”, but somehow whenever anyone with “power” in one form or another claims they’re being cancelled they end up with TV spots, magazine articles, newspapers, radio, etc etc.
As often happens when transphobia is not discouraged, the anti-trans jokes escalated every special, to the point that his most recent special was pretty much just a rant against trans people that goes on for over 30 minutes. He proudly proclaims himself to be a TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist), he repeatedly misgenders his “trans friend” (who killed herself a week after his first special aired. Someone he routinely drags through the mud, belittles, and puts down in his specials in the years following her death), and of course makes the claim that “everything he’s saying is ok because he [had] a trans friend.” Um Dave… how is the phrase “I can make jokes about black people because I have a black friend so it’s ok” lost on you that what you’re doing is the same exact goddamn thing?
I get that all of this is primarily because controversy sells. Social Media has blown up the last few days discussing this, with people defending Dave coming out of the woodwork. I get it. Hell this article wouldn’t exist without this. And yes, everyone is entitled to their own [shitty] opinion blah blah blah. Am I looking for attention in writing this article? No. I’m not even expecting many people to read it honestly. But I’m explaining why I decided to cancel my Netflix account so that in the next article I can list the various streaming services that are available in Canada. Unfortunately that means I have to provide this stupid backstory so that all of this will make some semblance of sense when people wonder why Netflix isn’t on that list.
The Problem With Netflix
First, they gave Chapelle a platform to spew his anti-trans nonsense to millions of people, SIX times!!. Hell, after the fifth special trans employees met with the Netflix leadership team to explain why it was problematic, and were told “we’ll take that into consideration and try to do better next time”.
After the most recent special, a trans employee from Netflix had a Twitter thread that went viral when she explained why the special was problematic, and ended the thread with the names of the 38 trans people who have been murdered so far this year in the US.
A few days later, Netflix suspended her and two other employees for “trying to attend a director’s level meeting that they weren’t invited to.” OK, that reason is janky at best, but Netflix has since reinstated her and she received a written notice that they were in error BECAUSE SHE HAD ACTUALLY BE SENT THE LINK TO THE VIDEO MEETING. Uh… last I checked being sent a link to a video conference is kinda an invitation… but sure, go off on using that flimsy excuse that Chapelle/Netflix defenders already ate up. You’re doing a good job Netflix PR on the misdirection!
The CEO of Netflix has also come out to say that they will not be removing the special for any reason, as they do not allow titles that incite hate or violence and they don’t feel that this crosses that line. It’s “artistic freedom” and some people are not going to agree with the content. Well THANK YOU Mr. Cis man. If it wasn’t for you trans people wouldn’t be able to tell what is and is not transphobic. Phew how lucky is that.
Here’s the thing: Change Chapelle’s anti-trans lines to be racist, and that content would not be on Netflix. “Oh, we don’t want to be in the same bathroom as someone like THAT.” But transphobia gets a pass because it’s still socially acceptable to hate on trans people and hell, even murder them. Yes you read that correctly, in all BUT 16 U.S. States it is perfectly acceptable to murder a trans person, and then claim the “trans-panic” defense so that you can get away with it. Basically the trans-panic defense is that you “flew into a rage of temporary insanity” when you found out someone was transgender therefore you weren’t responsible for your actions in killing them. I shouldn’t have to elaborate on how absolutely FUCKED UP that is.
So here we are. I have been a Netflix customer since May 2011 after they launched in Canada a year prior, and I went all in and cut cable TV service in 2017 in favour of legal streaming methods only.
I enjoy the content on Netflix, and there are plently of things on “My List” that I would like to still watch, but I cannot continue to support a company that will actively promote, defend, and excuse transphobia as “just someone’s opinion” or “artistic freedom”.
So, I may be just one person, but here’s my own small form of cancel culture.
Hopefully over the next week or so I’ll have a new article up about streaming services that are available in Canada. I already use some alternatives to Netflix like Crave, so this will be a good time to do a deep dive on what’s out there. Besides, I have $17.99 a month extra now that I can reallocate to different streaming services. Who wants my money?
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