Call Dave Chappelle canceled and loving it.
Chappelle occupies a unique space in the entertainment pantheon: Not only is he a comedy legend but, at age 48, he’s still relevant and edgy. In fact, his only problem is that comedians aren’t expected to be edgy nowadays. Laughs are less important than applause. Sacred cows aren’t supposed to be slaughtered; they’re supposed to be genuflected to.
But that’s the great thing about being a comedy legend: One assumes Chappelle’s been told, and one assumes Chappelle doesn’t care. Remember, this is the guy who walked away from a massive contract for his own comedy sketch show for reasons he never fully explained — except, one presumes, he was unhappy with the material.
Thus, when calls for his cancellation began in earnest after he said “gender is a fact” in his latest standup special, he wasn’t much fazed. In fact, he’s embracing it.
“If this is what being canceled is like, I love it,” Chappelle said to a standing ovation during a performance Thursday at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“F*** Twitter. F*** NBC News, ABC News, all these stupid ass networks,” Chappelle added. “I’m not talking to them. I’m talking to you. This is real life.”
The audience included several big Hollywood names, including Sterling K. Brown, Tiffany Haddish, Chuck Lorre, Brad Pitt and Donnell Rawlings.
The controversy stemmed from remarks Chappelle made during his Netflix special “The Closer” in which he chose to acknowledge certain unpopular biological realities.
“Gender is a fact. Every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth. That is a fact,” Chappelle said during the special.
Chappelle also joked that he was joining Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling on “team TERF.” Rowling, who has made comments critical of the transgender movement, is regarded as a trans-exclusionary radical feminist, or TERF; few other acronyms carry such a kiss of death in the progressive sphere as that one.
Also from “The Closer:” “I don’t hate gay people, I respect the s*** out of you — not all of you,” Chappelle said. “I’m not that fond of these newer gays — too sensitive, too brittle. I miss the old-school gays … the Stonewall gays. They didn’t take s*** from anybody.”
And thusly were hands wrung and pearls clutched:
?️Trans women are women.
Trans men are men.
Non-binary people are non-binary.
CC: Dave Chappelle
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) October 6, 2021
Nothing Dave Chappelle says changes the facts that trans women are women, trans men are men, non-binary people are non-binary, that LGBTQ+ people should live free of harm and discrimination. He is wrong. And Netflix has empowered him to be wrong loudly.
— Dana White (@ItsDanaWhite) October 6, 2021
As a trans woman, I have usually defended Dave Chappelle’s specials because I think they’re hilarious and his jokes about trans women never felt intentionally malicious.
The Closer changed my mind on that. That special felt so lazy and disingenuous and I’m really disappointed.
— Taylor Ashbrook ?️⚧️ (@taylor_ashbrook) October 5, 2021
Can you imagine giving a standing ovation to ignorant hate speech? Thank you Dave for making us feel good about despising others. https://t.co/iGxcl0mMDX
— Andy Kindler (@AndyKindler) October 9, 2021
Dave Chappelle’s brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized communities. Negative reviews and viewers loudly condemning his latest special is a message to the industry that audiences don’t support platforming anti-LGBTQ diatribes. We agree. https://t.co/yOIyT54819
— GLAAD (@glaad) October 6, 2021
Jaclyn Moore — the transgender former co-showrunner on Netflix’s “Dear White People” — expressed disappointment in Chappelle, who he called one of his “comic heroes.”
“I never loved Dave’s trans material before but this time it felt different,” Moore told Variety. “This is the first time I felt like, ‘Oh, people are laughing at this joke and they’re agreeing that it’s absurd to call me a woman.’ The fact is that’s the exact rhetoric and language that is used against us.”
“I’m really tired of my existence being a matter of debate, that this is something that we all just get to have an opinion about,” he added.
“We all get to have an opinion whether or not I am what I say I am. Look, I have no desire to cancel Dave Chappelle. He should make whatever he wants to make, but I will say to Netflix, it’s not like this was a live special. They saw this and were like, ‘Yeah this seems OK to put out there.’ The truth is, it’s not. It’s dangerous and it has real-world physical violence repercussions.”
In other words, biological truths cannot be told because they might cause danger to people who reject them. Moore has called for a boycott of Netflix and says he won’t work for them again “as long as they keep promoting and profiting from dangerous transphobic content.” He’s currently working on a “Queer as Folk” reboot for NBC streaming service Peacock, however — so, at least on the second count, Netflix being denied Moore’s services will have no practical effect in the short run.
However, there is one lie in what Moore said: He has every intention of canceling Dave Chappelle, the same as everyone who expects the comedian to do a 180 and profusely apologize for the content in “The Closer.” If he doesn’t, as far as they’re concerned, it’s consequences time.
Good luck with that, since the consequences don’t seem to have hit home. Chappelle’s special is the third most-streamed program on Netflix, according to Decider, behind “Maid” and cultural sensation “Squid Game.” Chappelle himself seems to “love” being canceled. And, what’s more, he got a standing ovation from a Hollywood crowd for telling an uncomfortable truth.
If this is what cancelation looks like, I’m loving it, too.
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