Dave Chappelle has written a transgender screenplay set in the Philippines
And it’s pretty damn good
So what’s the Netflix fuss about?
The script, written in 2016 and submitted to several Manila filmmakers including GMA and Criselda T. Navarro from ABS-CBN. A source inside a third network said off the record that the script is GBTQ friendly but producers in their organization simply didn’t want to offend the Catholic church. About 93% of the population in the Philippines identify as Catholic.
Chappelle’s script, which is being examined again, Riley, a transgender woman, is cheated out of her inheritance, a hotel, and must give up her sexual identity to find work. Her father was a fisherman and faced with starvation, she reverts to a male’s appearance. However, she is still routinely ridiculed working on a fishing boat. She is beaten and subject to abuse. However, the fishing boat is sunk in a naval conflict in the West Philippine Sea – China vs the US and Australians. Riley was a competitive swimmer as a youth and (with her father) was one left in the open water. The panicked crew face grave danger in the open water and in wartime. She could simply leave her tormentors and save herself. However, the transgender woman saves the crew by leading them to a remote island.”
Titled, “West Philippine Sea,” the script is 93 pages and not entirely comedic as one would expect from the well known comedian. However, creative story editor at imovies.ph, Futan Garza, said it was, “a carefully considered and thoughtful social and political story.”
Marissa Aroy told reporters in the U.S., “Whenever minority voices in the field of film criticism or even the general movie-going public talk about expanding the canon, or even going as far as destroying it, we’re arguing for our place at the table. It is not breaking news to say that the film industry has been dominated by white men for over 100 years at this point.” Ms Aroy has been crowned “one of the most influential women in the world” by the Filipino Network, this Emmy Award-winning documentarian has covered stories from Sikh-Americans to Paraguayo musicians.
Filipino producer and director Lav Diaz said, “For fans of transgender rights this film would not be a sprint, it’s clearly a marathon.” His four-hour epic reimagining of Dostoevskya’s Crime and Punishment that screened in theUn Certain Regard section at the Cannes Film Festival.
Netflix’s transgender employees say executives at the streaming service dismissed their concerns that Chappelle’s controversial comments in “The Closer” could lead to violence against the trans community. The first person to address the crowd of about 150 gathered near Netflix’s Hollywood offices was rally organizer Ashlee Marie Preston, who said she and other members of the community had invited Chappelle “on multiple occasions” to have “transformative dialogue, (but) he has made it clear it is not of interest to him.” Preston also accused Netflix, which has repeatedly supported the comedian in recent days, of “making money off our inability to understand intersectionality.”
Transgenders vs Dave Chappelle in the United States
In the United States, at the beginning of October, Netflix had released “The Closer,” a new hour-and-change comedy special from Dave Chappelle, his sixth under a deal he had signed with the streaming service, in 2016. The earlier specials are principally remembered for their odd preoccupation with trans and queer identities. In “The Closer,” Chappelle continues in the same vein—“Gender is a fact” and “I’m team terf” are two phrases that he says at one point—and also goes meta about the ire his work has elicited. (Trans people “want me dead,” he says.) The least imaginative material of Chappelle’s to date—and his last special “for a minute,” he claims—“The Closer” may have hardly nudged the dial if not for the stir it caused at Netflix internally. The day after the special went online, Jaclyn Moore, the showrunner of “Dear White People,” announced on Twitter that she was “done” working with the platform “as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.” Five days after that, The Verge reported that Netflix had suspended three employees, one of whom had criticized the company’s choice to release the special, after they’d crashed a meeting that was intended for director-level management. (They were reinstated shortly after the story broke.) The company’s trans* employee resource group organized a virtual walkout, and soon enough the leader of that group was fired—Netflix said that the cause was data leaks, including records, published on Bloomberg on October 13th, revealing, among other financial details, the high price the company had paid for “The Closer.” (The employee, B. Pagels-Minor, identified themself on Tuesday and denied leaking to the press.) On the day of the demonstration, after almost a week of inactivity, @Most tweeted, “brb walking out.”
Dave Chappelle willing to meet with transgender employees at Netflix
Dave Chappelle has reiterated his offer to meet with transgender employees at Netflix offended by his latest special, The Closer, but he has some stipulations.
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.
Dave Chappelle’s career started while he was in high school at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC where he studied theatre arts. At the age of 14, he began performing stand-up comedy in nightclubs. Shortly after graduation, he moved to New York City where he quickly established himself as a major young talent. At the age of 19, Chappelle made his film debut in Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Chappelle then starred in the short-lived sitcom, Buddies and had a featured role in The Nutty Professor.