Is Dave Chappelle’s new Netflix show at risk of being banned?
Out of the frying pan and. . . back into the frying pan? Dave Chappelle has once again faced criticism for being transphobic on Netflix. Dave Chappelle: The Closer was released on October 5th and was being heavily criticized by October 6th.
Chappelle has never been afraid of telling controversial jokes. Chappelle’s Show was iconic for being hilarious and unafraid to piss people off. With skits like “Ask a Gay Dude” with Mario Cantone, Chappelle regularly pushed the envelope.
However, something has changed in the legendary comedian’s style. He no longer seems interested in punching up. Instead, he’s been making it a habit since his last special to punch down. Is this latest controversy the last straw for Netflix?
Closer to canceled
Netflix’s Dave Chappelle: The Closer opens on a young Black man perusing vinyl records of his past standup performances. The background noise of people cheering crescendos until they finally decide to put on Dave Chappelle: The Closer.
The scene smoothly transitions to Chappelle entering the stage to thundering applause. He then tells the audience, “This gone be my last special for a minute.” The following jokes possibly prove his point, just not in the way he expected.
He jokes about punching queer people “in the AIDS”. He playfully remembers the time he physically assaulted a queer woman in stereotypically masculine attire. He even reminisces over the supposed good old days of queer people not being “so sensitive”.
Yet, his declaring himself “Team TERF” in support of notoriously transphobic Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling caused the most backlash. A TERF – trans-exclusionary radical feminist – supports excluding transgender women and oppose transgender rights legislation.
Dave Chappelle: The Closer isn’t the comedian’s first controversial stand-up special on Netflix, but it might be the one to break the proverbial camel’s back. The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) empowers queer Black folx by fighting for their civil rights.
The organization has expressed disappointment in Chappelle. It’s now calling for Chappelle’s special to be removed due to its anti-LGBTQIA+ content.
“It is deeply disappointing that Netflix allowed Dave Chappelle’s lazy and hostile transphobia and homophobia to air on its platform." -David J. Johns
Read the full article on his special with the link https://t.co/KKvm78ZOqE pic.twitter.com/Le6AfxMZJc
— NBJC (@NBJContheMove) October 7, 2021
The organization also believes violence against transgender people is propagated by transphobic rhetoric like Chappelle’s. They hope removing his stand-up special from Netflix will deter similar rhetoric in the future.
From jokes to tragedy
Anti-LGBTQIA+ hate crimes happen every day – especially against Black transgender womxn. NBJC executive director David Johns even predicted 2021 will be the most deadly year in terms of violent assaults.
People rarely want to admit when jokes support dangerous rhetoric, which in turn supports real-life violence. Regardless, Chappelle’s jokes feed into the same transphobic ideology responsible for putting transgender people in danger.
A large number of transgender people – especially womxn – are being killed every day. Dave Chappelle: The Closer doesn’t tell people to go out & kill them. However, the responsibility is on Chappelle & Netflix to be conscious of their impact.
Socially conscious comedy
In the 2010s, comedians started facing public backlash for offensive jokes. Many felt victimized by what they considered censorship by overly sensitive listeners. In reality, marginalized people were starting to speak out against being made the butt of those jokes.
Dave Chappelle’s previous stand-up special on Netflix was heavily criticized for many reasons. Among them were his anti-LGBTQIA+ jokes. His most recent stand-up special almost feels like retaliation for being expected to apologize & show respect.
Many people would say the world is not meant to be a safe space. Rather, it’s an oyster to be swallowed whole or not at all. Yet, even legendary comedians like Chappelle are learning the hard way what marginalized people are no longer willing to put up with. It looks like the joke’s on him.