Netflix gets it dead wrong and the LGBTQ+ community suffers
Punching down is the norm and we shouldn't pretend otherwise.
Sree’s newsletter is produced w/ Zach Peterson (@zachprague). Sometimes, it feels like I’m the only person not watching “Squid Game” on Netflix. Tweet by Altered Jay (@AlteredJay), ht Abby Govindan (@AbbyGov)
Scroll down for Read Something; Watch Something; and a weekly tech tip from Robert S. Anthony (@newyorkbob).
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TUESDAY NIGHT UPDATE, via WSJ: Netflix Co-CEO Says He ‘Screwed Up’ When Defending Dave Chappelle Special ‘I should have recognized the fact that a group of our employees was really hurting,’ Ted Sarandos says in interview. See full story by Joe Flint.
“Let’s get Netflix.” I remember saying that to my wife circa 2001 just before we started getting the DVD-by-mail service. This week, I said it again to Zach, my newsletter collaborator, but not in a good way.
It’s been a shameful few days for the company, now the global streaming giant.
I’ll table discussion of whether Dave Chappelle’s new Netflix special is funny or not. Regardless of its merits on the comedy side of things, the special contains some very overt instances of Chappelle taking what could only be called cheap shots at the trans community.
Naturally, this led to a lot of discomfort for a lot of people, including within Netflix. Terra Field (@rainofterra), a software engineer at Netflix, published a great thread (a suspension-worthy thread, apparently) about the special.
Read this thread — Terra really gets at the meaning of the term “offended” in cases like this. Sure, what Chappelle says in his special is offensive in the classic sense, but, as Terra notes, this sort of language from a person with a following like Chappelle can cause real-world harm. This has nothing to do with offending or being offending. It has nothing to do with being “thin-skinned,” “over-sensitive,” or - gasp - woke. It has everything to do with providing more fodder for people who simply do not think trans people have any place in the world. There’s nothing “offensive” about that — it’s hate, plain and simple.
In response to the Chappelle special, a walkout has been organized at Netflix for Oct 20. You’ll never guess what happened next (story by Zoe Schiffer).
Netflix says that the firing was because the employee leaked information on the financials behind the Chappelle special, but this all absolutely stinks. The Verge has been doing some great reporting on this, and this passage really sums it all up:
The employee, who is Black and currently pregnant, asked not to be named for fear of online harassment. They have been encouraging trans employees and allies to walk out of work in protest of Netflix’s handling of the Dave Chappelle special The Closer. The employee declined to speak to The Verge for this story.
“All these white people are going around talking to the press and speaking publicly on Twitter and the only person who gets fired is the Black person who was quiet the entire time,” says a former employee in an interview with The Verge. “That’s absurd, and just further shows that Black trans people are the ones being targeted in this conversation.”
Of course, the Cancel Culture Warriors of the Internet are out in droves with their proclamations of victimhood and cries of “we can’t say anything anymore.” Of course, all of them are wrong - again. This is sort of starting to enter broken-record territory, but punching down — especially punching down on groups of people who are marginalized — isn’t comedy, it’s laziness.
Comedian James Acaster absolutely nails it in this bit (that is directly about Ricky Gervais, arguably the godfather of cancel culture warriors in comedy):
Netflix is in the content business, and any company that spends billions of dollars every year on creating new stuff for to watch is going to have some misses. But this is different. Producing a multimillion-dollar show with arguably the most well-known comic on the planet is a choice, and releasing it with the blatant anti-trans bits is another choice — these choices have consequences.
The fact that a group of Netflix employees planned a walkout over the special says all that needs to be said, and the way Netflix handled that says even more. Once again, we’re seeing a huge, powerful company — one that talks a pretty big game on inclusion — shoot itself in the foot several times over. Firing the organizer of the walkout is a form of punching down that almost outweighs the initial sin of the Chappelle special.
The trans community, and the LGBTQ+ community more widely, does not need more belittlement and disrespect — it needs allies and representation.
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Adam Serwer has become one of the most incisive political writers of our time, but this piece is a bit different. Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito directly referenced Serwer’s work recently, and this is Serwer’s response to that. First, a Supreme Court justice doing something like this is just weird to me. Second, a justice doing this and being so clearly wrong is just not healthy for our country. [While you’re at it, read my live-tweets of Adam’s book this summer.]
Triple Play: Apple, Google & Samsung Launch New Products
By Robert S. Anthony
Each week, veteran tech journalist Bob Anthony shares a tech tip you don’t want to miss. Follow him @newyorkbob.
If you’re a gadget and gizmo aficionado and you’ve grown dead tired of sitting in front of the computer monitor for hours in the name of remote and hybrid work, guess what? Relief is not in sight. At least not this week. But at least you’ll be entertained.
This week there will be no fewer than three major tech product virtual events, all open to the public—not just the media. While the tech industry stumbles under the weight of component shortages and supply chain issues, the spirit of innovation seems to survive in the form of product announcements.
Apple already made waves Sept. 14 with the introduction of the iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro, new iPads and the Apple Watch Series 7, but it will be back at 1 p.m. EDT Monday to lift the curtain on more products. While Apple’s ability to keep a secret is legendary, some media outlets like 9to5Mac are predicting that Apple will unveil new MacBook Pro laptops powered by a new, more powerful version of its M1 processor.
The subject of Google’s event on Tuesday at 1 p.m. EDT is no secret: It will showcase its new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro Android smartphones, the first built around the Google Tensor, the company’s first custom-made mobile processor. In a lengthy Twitter thread, Google notes that the Tensor SoC (system on a chip) will be able to “…process Google’s most powerful AI and ML models directly on #Pixel6.”
In other words, the chip will be able to quickly handle artificial intelligence and machine learning processes by itself instead of having to send them out to the cloud and wait for data to come back. According to Google, the chip will improve speech recognition, assist the cameras and enhance other features of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
Samsung staged a “Galaxy Unpacked” event last month to announce its Galaxy Z Fold3 5G and Galaxy Z Flip3 5G smartphones, both with seamless foldable displays, but recently added a “Galaxy Unpacked Part 2” event for 10 a.m. EDT Wednesday on Samsung’s YouTube channel. The product lineup here is indeed a mystery, despite a few “colorful” hints offered by a video teaser.
While none of the above will provide a break from your computer screen, at least they’ll provide a break from the tedium—while providing strong hints as to what to gift yourself this winter.
Amazing thread here for anyone interested in education, standardized testing, and how the education system — from top to bottom, really — is naturally rigged in favor of people who already have plenty of opportunity.
The vomit-inducing Jon Gruden affair is almost certainly the tip of the iceberg in terms of overt racism, misogyny, homophobia, and general awfulness circulating at the highest levels of the NFL. William Rhoden knows this, and really nails it here.
Odds & Ends
🗞 TUNE IN: Our #NYTReadalong this week was w/ distinguished journalist Terence Smith (recording). Recent episodes: Broadway stalwarts Nancy Ringham Smith and Chris Smith; Jarrett Adams, a lawyer who was falsely convicted at 17 and exonerated a decade later; Jeanne Pinder, creator of Clear Health Costs. The NYTReadalong is sponsored by Muck Rack. Interested in sponsorship opportunities? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
The Readalong is followed, on most Sundays at 11 am-noon ET, by a medical show I’m co-executive producing with surgeons Sujana Chandrasekhar, M.D. (@DrSujanaENT), and Marina Kurian, M.D. (@MarinaKurian), called She’s On Call (watch live or later). Here’s the Apple Podcasts version.
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