I still haven’t seen Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special “The Closer“, so I can’t weigh in on whether what he said was in horrible taste or not. Those of you who did see it can (and should) weigh in below. As you know, given that it dealt with transsexual issues, it caused an uproar, much of it is already reported on Wikipedia. The unusual thing is that a big and lucrative corporation is standing firm against a social-media onslaught.
All I can say about Chappelle is that I’ve seen some of his other shows, or parts of him, and see him as a latter-day Lenny Bruce, who deals frankly with topics about which people have strong feelings. And I think he’s funny and provocative as hell.
But I will neither defend nor attack him about this issue till I see the show. I’ll just reprise the reaction given by the New York Times, which reports that the company is melting down internally after presenting Chappelle’s show. Chappelle allegedly made comments that were “transphobic”. Both co-executives of Neflix, however, are defending both the show and Chappelle.
Click on the screenshot below to read:
The accusations (all indented material are from the NYT piece):
That’s all changed. Internally, the tech company that revolutionized Hollywood is now in an uproar as employees challenge the executives responsible for its success and accuse the streaming service of facilitating the spread of hate speech and perhaps inciting violence.
At the center of the unrest is “The Closer,” the much-anticipated special from the Emmy-winning comedian Dave Chappelle, which debuted on Oct. 5 and was the fourth-most-watched program on Netflix in the United States on Thursday. In the show, Mr. Chappelle comments mockingly on transgender people and aligns himself with the author J.K. Rowling as “Team TERF,” an acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist, a term used for a group of people who argue that a transgender woman’s biological sex determines her gender and can’t be changed.
“The Closer” has thrust Netflix into difficult cultural debates, generating the kind of critical news coverage that usually attends Facebook and Google.
Several organizations, including GLAAD, the organization that monitors the news media and entertainment companies for bias against the L.G.B.T.Q. community, have criticized the special as transphobic. Some on Netflix’s staff have argued that it could incite harm against trans people. This week, the company briefly suspended three employees who attended a virtual meeting of executives without permission, and a contingent of workers has planned a walkout for next week.
. . .Terra Field, a software engineer at Netflix and one of the three employees who were suspended for joining a quarterly meeting of top executives that they were not invited to, said on Twitter last week that the special “attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness.” (Ms. Field and the other suspended employees have been reinstated.)
Jaclyn Moore, an executive producer for the Netflix series “Dear White People,” said last week that she would not work with Netflix “as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.”
On Wednesday, GLAAD criticized Mr. Sarandos’s claim that on-screen content does not lead to real-world violence. “Film and TV have also been filled with stereotypes and misinformation about us for decades, leading to real-world harm, especially for trans people and L.G.B.T.Q. people of color,” the organization said in a statement.
The critical reaction to “The Closer” has been mixed, with most reviewers acknowledging Mr. Chappelle’s comedic skills while questioning whether his desire to push back against his detractors has led him to adopt rhetorical tactics favored by internet trolls. Roxane Gay, in a Times opinion column, noted “five or six lucid moments of brilliance” in a special that includes “a joyless tirade of incoherent and seething rage, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia.”
I looked up the ratings of the show on Rotten Tomatoes, and here they are. This is one of the biggest disparities I’ve ever seen between critics’ reviews and the public’s reviews. Clearly, the media is much more on the “transphobe” side than is the public:
The defense. Surprisingly, given its dominance of the media, both of the company’s chief executives mounted a robust defense, though the company didn’t have a comment (nor did Chappelle).
A discussion this week on an internal Netflix message board between Reed Hastings, a co-chief executive, and company employees suggested that the two sides remained far apart on the issue of Mr. Chappelle’s special. A transcript of the wide-ranging online chat, in which Mr. Hastings expressed his views on free speech and argued firmly against the comedian’s detractors, was obtained by The New York Times.
One employee questioned whether Netflix was “making the wrong historical choice around hate speech.” In reply, Mr. Hastings wrote: “To your macro question on being on the right side of history, we will always continue to reflect on the tensions between freedom and safety. I do believe that our commitment to artistic expression and pleasing our members is the right long term choice for Netflix, and that we are on the right side, but only time will tell.”
. . .Replying to an employee who argued that Mr. Chappelle’s words were harmful, Mr. Hastings wrote: “In stand-up comedy, comedians say lots of outrageous things for effect. Some people like the art form, or at least particular comedians, and others do not.
When another employee expressed an opinion that Mr. Chappelle had a history of homophobia and bigotry, Mr. Hastings said he disagreed, and would welcome the comedian back to Netflix.
“We disagree with your characterization and we’ll continue to work with Dave Chappelle in the future,” he said. “We see him as a unique voice, but can understand if you or others never want to watch his show.”
He added, “We do not see Dave Chappelle as harmful, or in need of any offset, which we obviously and respectfully disagree on.”
In a note to employees this week, Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s other co-chief executive, expressed his unwavering support for Mr. Chappelle and struck back at the argument that the comic’s statements could lead to violence.
I’ll try to watch this soon, and the questions I’ll be asking myself are these:
a. Does Chappelle really seem to express transphobia or homophobia?
b. Is the show in bad taste?
c. The show is said to include a memoriam by Chappelle of his late friend Daphne Dorman, a transgender comedian. Others say it was disrespectful. Which was it?
d. Do I think the show is likely to incite violence? (That’s just a guess, of course.)
e. Does this look like it will hurt Netflix?
f. Do I think that Chappelle is through—permanently cancelled. I doubt it given that Netflix is defending him pretty strongly, and if they keep airing his shows, well, that’s not cancellation.
The topic of transsexual people is perhaps the hottest political button there is for those on the Left. Certainly Netflix and Chappelle had the right under the first amendment to say what they wanted, but of course that right comes with the consequences of what you say. Normally the consequences from what I hear from the critics and opponents would be cancellation, but this is Dave Chappelle, and pushing buttons is his business.
49 thoughts on “Netflix employees and many civilians criticize Dave Chappelle’s “The Closer,” Netflix executives stand by the Chappelle and the show”
I thought that his memoriam to Daphne Dorman was very respectful, and that there was nothing harmful to transgender people. He pointed out obvious biological facts, such as trans women have never experienced a menstrual period, but I don’t think that this is transphobic to talk about this. No one seems to be upset about his routine about beating up a lesbian. That was the part of the show that was in bad taste. Gays and lesbians have suffered violence for centuries, and it really isn’t funny to make jokes about this. I believe in free speech, so I wouldn’t censor it in any way, but I really disliked his routine about this.
I may be reading too much into it but his routine about beating up a lesbian seems a direct parallel to a story told by Hannah Gadsby in her special, Nanette. At the risk of “spoiling” I’ll describe it briefly. She gives a story at the beginning about how a guy wanted to beat her up because he thought she was a man hitting on his girlfriend. Once the man realizes Gadsby is a woman herself, he doesn’t do it because he assumes they were just having a platonic conversation. The joke is that Gadsby is a somewhat masculine-looking lesbian and in fact she was hitting on the guy’s girlfriend. Towards the end of the special Gadby becomes more serious and she explains that she ended the joke at that point to be funny, but in fact that man actually did beat her up after realizing she was a lesbian.
If I recall the Chappelle joke correctly he was hitting on a woman and finds out the woman has a girlfriend (or maybe it was just a woman hitting on her as well). And he beats up the girlfriend, almost like he would be the guy in Gadsby’s story. Even if this isn’t a conscience choice Nanette made a big splash when it aired so I’d be surprised if Chappelle, who evidently does spend a lot of mental energy thinking about LGBTQ+ people and about comedy generally, had no familiarity with that special.
I’m sure Netflix welcomes the controversy. It’s obviously going to cause some people to watch the show that otherwise would not, myself included. Even many of those that say that the show will hurt them probably have to watch to see if their outrage is justified or to flesh out the details of their claim. Many of the articles covering the controversy seem to be more worried that Netflix is making a cold business calculation rather than taking a stand for free speech. I really don’t think it matters.
I watched most of it; turned it off towards the end because it was just him ranting, with not many good jokes or funny in it.
I really like Dave Chappelle’s humor. I also generally support comedian’s rights to make offensive jokes and humor. Chappelle does offensive humor really well – even when he’s making stereotypical jokes, I find a lot of it laugh out loud funny. However I don’t find his social commentary particularly deep or worth listening to. IMO comedians are like athletes or movie stars; sometimes they have good thoughts on deeper social problems, and there’s that rare gem who actually is pretty expert in some other field. But for the most part they aren’t experts in anything but their day job, and all you’re going to get on deeper issues is a superficial analysis you could get from your country cousin.
So I guess overall I agree with the NYT review: 5 or 6 moments of classic good Chapelle humor, within 60-90 minutes of Dave’s Theories Of Gender Which Nobody Cares To Hear (Or At Least Eric Didn’t).
Now for your list
a) – He expresses similar reservations as Rowding and others. Whether that’s phobic or not is in the eye of the beholder I guess.
b) – Not in the conventional sense. The wag in me says a comedy special which is not very funny is ‘in bad taste.’
c) – Not disrespectful to my mind.
d) – It shouldn’t. I really hope not. There is absolutely nothing physically inciteful in it.
e) – I have no idea.
f) – I hope not! But I think right now he’s obsessed with responding to critic’s attacks claiming his humor means he’s a bigot. So rather than do funny offensive jokes, he’s spending special after special trying to explain how his funny offensive jokes don’t mean he’s a bigot. I wish he’d grow a thicker skin, ignore the people calling him a bigot or whatever, and just go back to writing funny offensive jokes.
It’s a joke that anyone would think either Chapelle or J.K. Rowling are transphobic. The joke is he aligns himself with Team TERF since the T does not apply to hardly anyone tarred with the label.
I haven’t seen this special, but have all the others. If he does, in this one, go off to far into a rant that would be too bad. He has so much to offer in incisive observational comedy. Having said that, he could be setting a good example standing up to the craziness. TBD for me.
A while ago Saturday Night Live did a “news” bit about J.K. Rowling being a transphobe. It very much annoyed me since it was evident the comic (the tall thin one with tattoos) never looked into what Rowling said. Now I wonder how Rowling thinks about other people getting similarly entangled.
A CEO with a backbone? I can hardly believe what I read. How long until he backtracks and apologizes with the usual ritual abasement? I predict <1 week.
I don’t know why everyone thinks it requires a backbone, or courage for people to continue running a show that gets criticised.
What is there to be frightened of? What exactly will happen to them if they keep the show on streaming? Nothing, as far as I know. What is it that is supposed to be so terrifying about some people complaining?
Why did even the Nobel Laureates running the Royal Society regard some negative comments on social media as such an irresistible force that they would throw a colleague under a bus for a humorous, self-deprecating comment?
I have never got that.
They might have at least considered that people would boycott Netflix as a hateful organization. Considered and rejected, if they have any sense.
So, the charge against Mr. Chapelle is that he attacks “the validity of transness”. Gadzooks! Next thing you know, comedians will question the validity of my declared trans-identity as a member of the critically endangered Greater Sage-Grouse species. [See: https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/greater-sage-grouse.%5D Our chosen personal pronouns are, of course, “they” and “us”, because “grouse” is both singular and plural.
Getting a “Sorry, We Couldn’t Find That Page Error.” But I accept your declared-species identity, and humbly ask: It is considered OK to accuse someone of ‘grousing,’ (meaning complaining) if said with affection?
The NYT have that wrong (not a surprise). “TERFs” maintain (and they are entirely correct on this) that biological sex is real, cannot be changed, and is important in many situations.
They do not assert that sex “determines gender”. Indeed “gender” is a rather vague term of unclear meaning, and “TERFs” are generally happy for people to be any gender they like — while asserting the reality and importance of sex.
Coel, you are 100% right that the NYT journalist got the meaning of TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) wrong.
And you are also right that this is not surprising for people who have followed this debate. Radical trans activists and their allies consistently mischaracterize their liberal opponents (like, for instance, JK Rowling and Kathleen Stock).
Radical transactivists: You can self-identify into the category women.
Liberal critics: You can self-identify into the category trans women, but not into the category women. Also, we should not discriminate against trans individuals. There are contexts where women and trans women should be treated differently.
I largely agree, but would add that although the central aspects of biological sex cannot be changed (e g you won’t ever get the gonads or chromosomes of the other sex), aspects of the biological sex can be modified via treatment, so that in some aspects, like hormone status or outer genitalia, you physically resemble the other sex or true intersex people. Someone who has been outwardly turned into a woman completely may still be male technically, but is not a man like any man (but also not a woman like any woman).
I’d prefer to just say that they’re still men (still biologically male), in the same way that a male soldier who loses both legs and genitals in a land mine is still a “man”, despite the bodily modifications.
Having said that, I fully support the right of adults to make such bodily modifications if they think it will increase their quality of life, and I fully support the right of anyone to adopt whatever masculine or feminine stereotypes and live in whatever gender role best suits them (so long as it doesn’t impinge on women’s utterly reasonable request for same-sex spaces where appropriate).
All the terminology is a semantic mind field. Male, female, man, woman…
Many want to reserve certain words to biology, particularly “male” and “female”. But the more activist sort wants all of the words.
Since there is no over-arching authority that all will recognize, the language will remain a semantic mind field for now.
100%, Coel! I’m fully supportive of transwomens rights up to the point where they come into conflict with those of natal/biological women. Beyond that, biological males, regardless of how they choose to self-identify, insisting on their rights over and above those of natal women is just the patriarchy asserting itself (again).
I’m pretty sure that Coel is aware of this already, but a pretty good interview with Dr David Bell, formerly of the NHS Gender Identity Development Service, is available here: ‘BBC Radio Ulster – Nolan Investigates, Episode 5 – A gender clinic insider speaks out’ https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p09yk7dh (The first couple of minutes are somewhat idiosyncratic and may well be annoying!)
Readers should do a google search for the phrase ‘Biological Sex is a Social Construct’, at the moment it seems to be a 50/50 split between aparent left-wing groups stating the concept is true and right-wing groups claiming the left-wing groups are saying the concept is true.
Wow, when I read this article yesterday, the NYT defined TERF differently! The original sentence made no reference to biological sex, but rather said something like “…birth gender can’t be changed.”
Obviously someone corrected them, and they still didn’t get the correction right.
Jonahthan Haidt recently wrote about ‘monomania’ on Persuasion (https://www.persuasion.community/p/haidt-monomania-is-illiberal-and)
– I feel this illuminates a lot of the pushback on Chapelle.
a) When Chapelle recounts the impact that Daphne Dorman’s comment: “I just want you to appreciate that I’m having a human experience” had on him – I feel he is sincerely expressing that he trying to understand and accept the trans experience. His criticism is not directed at transpeople at all.
b) Taste? your call. I’m an OWM, and much of it does not agree with my palate
c) Distasteful, no. Provocative and deep – yes. I believe he described her the way he did to explain much she meant to him and how much he learned from her.
d) Hope not – he’s asking for dialogue.
e) Well, the same mob that has gone after him will put the pressure on Netflix. I think he is baiting them.
f) Netflix manangent answers only to $$$, so maybe they cancel him. But Chapelle cancelled – doubtful.
Until this controversy, I was only familiar with Chapelle by name, had never seen his act. Parts of the show involved some gross humor, not really my thing but pretty tame in the big scheme of things. Obviously there is a lot of water under the bridge regarding his previous comments about gay and trans issues, I cannot speak to that.
However, no way his memoriam to Daphne was disrespectful. His respect for her was obvious. He hammers the trans “tribe” pretty hard for what they did to her. I did not take that as transphobic, but heartfelt.
The best line was when he recounted telling Daphne that he did not understand her to which she replied, “I don’t need you to understand me, I need you to understand I am having a human experience”.
How much better the world would be if we all approached each other with that understanding.
Honestly, it was not my favorite special of his. But that has nothing to do with any of the controversy. He has been and still is one of my absolute favorite comedians. His story towards the end about his trans FRIEND, Daphne, was pretty touching, sad, and still funny. The overall message I took from that whole things was this:
He basically seems to reject the idea that we must, by default, pay a certain respect to someone just based on their identity as a member of a group. He seems to place much more significance on personal interactions with individuals. His story about Daphne was very moving and he clearly had a certain respect and affection for her. He cared about her. He tried to help her with her career. He expressed sorrow over her death. I think he even reached out to her daughter.
I really don’t see anything controversial about this. Curious what others think.
I won’t watch the show, I’m an old white woman, and it’s likely not to my taste. Not familiar with Chapelle other than recognizing the name. But he has the right to be tasteless, rant, and say every offensive thing he can. He will have to take the consequences. Bravo to the Netflix executives.
I saw it. Chappelle is definitely an offensive comic, meaning that offense is a major part of his schtick. People that are offended by that sort of comedy should do us all a favor and not watch him.
There was nothing in Chappelle’s performance that could be expected to incite violence anymore than about 99% of any other popular media stuff. Anybody incited to violence by it, that’s on them, not Dave.
It’s possible Dave may be to some degree transphobic, by some definition, but if so he then he criticized himself about it during this routine.
His tribute to his late transvestite friend was the entire point of the routine. It was not disrespectful. It was tear inducing, and it was obvious that he was near tears when delivering the ‘punchline.’
It wasn’t just a tribute of course. His intent in recounting his relationship with his friend was to show that he is not a transphobe, and by contrasting the attitudes of his friend with his trans critics explain that his issues with his trans critics are not because he is a transphobe but because of their words and actions. His final words of the show were,
This is going to sound weird but I think that’s part of the problem. He’s a comedian that tells offensive jokes about race, sex, gender, orientation, you name it. Of course he’s going to be accused of various -ism’s. But IMO worrying about how he’s perceived is killing his humor. He is, essentially, letting the hecklers derail his act.
I think that’s right on target. And this was definitely not a normal comedy routine. The whole show was a response to his hecklers.
I watched it. Yes it was in bad taste. Yes it was funny (I laughed). His tribute to his trans friend was thoughtful and loving.
If some of the Netflix staff are melting down internally, one can only hope the scuppers stay unclogged until the decks are clean.
Im’a watch it tonight, and don’t want to read anything about it before I do, so I’ll get to this post tomorrow. A day late and a dollar short, that’s my story.
I thought it was compelling and I enjoyed it. This despite the seriously Anti-Semitic jokes in the beginning. The Space Jews joke is worse than anything he says about trans etc., and he has no humanity offsetting it. But no NYTimes article about that.
But nonetheless, I enjoyed the special because he was entertaining and not boring and not conventional.
I agree that the Daphne Dorman story was very enlightening, especially her comment at the end.
I have not seen Chappelle so am not commenting on his work. What I find interesting is your question d, will the show incite violence. As long as I remember until recently, anyone who criticized movies books music tv shows-any form of “artistic expression” for its violent content, stating it may inspire like action, was furiously shut down and outright mocked. “How ridiculous” was the response, how reactionary, of course looking at a movie/listening to music does not cause people to act. Now the fundamental reason groups/individuals are giving for censoring such material is that it will cause or inspire acts of violence. In the recent past, the Left excused anything in the name of art. Recently it seems the Left wants to use what was formerly a right wing position to shut down speech. So are you going to decide for yourself if Chappelle was shouting “fire” in a crowded theater?
While IMO both the old conservative “violent shows and songs beget violence” crowd and the newer leftist “hurtful speech is/inspires violence” crowd are wrong, they are very different positions and arguments, and thus are (IMO) wrong for different reasons.
The former group was concerned about kids copying behavior they hear or see. They are wrong because empirically, sociologically, it doesn’t seem to be the case that watching an action movie or listening to rap leads to violence. They had a theory of human behavior, that theory turned out to be incorrect.
The current group is essentially claiming a heckler’s veto; the right to respond with violence to some non-violent speech because of it’s offensive content. This is rather a rights claim more akin to a “fighting words” defense – i.e. if you say something hurtful, I have a right to hit you, because your words and my fist are (in their argument) equivalent – it’s a proportional response. This is not a theory of human behavior that can be decided by empiricism; it’s instead an issue of what we codify into law as a justifiable reason for a violent response. And these folks are wrong (IMO), because their system would lead to massive justified legal violence, heavy censorship, and to be frank, if they got their choice about what content justified violence, a legal bias against conservative thoughts and ideas.
Interesting perspective, though I can’t agree. [On Wednesday, GLAAD criticized Mr. Sarandos’s claim that on-screen content does not lead to real-world violence. “Film and TV have also been filled with stereotypes and misinformation about us for decades, leading to real-world harm, especially for trans people and L.G.B.T.Q. people of color,” the organization said in a statement.] This is exactly the point of view of those decrying violence in movies and other art/ media, who were perceived as right-wing, unsophisticated and reactionary: that some representations lead directly to violence.
Your point about the “heckler’s veto” excusing violence as a response to speech- or political votes/ policies is a separate issue, and an important one. In fact, Andrew Sullivan writes about this in his “Weekly Dish” today.
When trans activists talk about “transphobic” statements causing or inspiring “violence,” they’re not referring to their own acts of protest and outrage in response. They’re primarily talking about the men who attack them for being “fake” women who presumably would not attack them if it became common knowledge that they were in fact “real” women.
There’s a lot of shaky presumptions there. First, that the sort of men who would beat up a man looking woman-ish would care what comedians, academics, or anyone else says. Toxic masculinity isn’t going to be caused, inspired, or reinforced by gender critical feminism. And second, that without any reminders of transwomen being male, that after a while they wouldn’t care, or maybe even be able to tell. They’d only be homophobes who keep beating up effeminate men, instead of transphobes who include transwomen.
Interesting that there is no outrage or even comment about the Space Jews jokes. Very anti-Semitic, but I guess that is acceptable to the critics of Dave.
Despite that, I enjoyed the special. It was entertaining and sincere, and he is not boring and conventional.
The Daphne Dorman story was compelling. And educating.
I agree that the Space Jews joke, which he made twice, was anti-Semitic and should be receiving more criticism. Not his best work, but his tribute to Daphne Dorman was respectful.
For those who haven’t watched, the routine involved a science fiction movie in which aliens come to Earth, and turn out to be the original inhabitants and they want to reclaim their planet. You can see the parallels for yourself and understand why Chappelle said the movie would be called ‘Space Jews’. Now that is humour – using commentary of questionable taste to make us think in new ways about a topic. Did he say it to criticise Jews, or Zionism? I don’t think so. He said it to make a joke. We all have to put aside our self-regard and enjoy jokes that make fun of us. Not one of us is so sacred we cannot be laughed at. That may even be the therapeutic purpose of humour.
He said many equally critical things about white people, and I don’t take offense at that either – maybe I learned something from his point of view. If you can’t laugh at yourself, other people will do it for you. He is neither transphobic nor anti-semitic in my estimation. I hope you enjoy it, Jerry.
I have not seen it, but I understand that a major message of his was that trans folks need to laugh at themselves, like all identities need to. No one should be off limits.
As for the possibility that it will inspire more trans-phobia: The real danger is the media storm to cancel Chapelle. Its that sort of attention that really inspires the neanderthals (for lack of a better word).
I watched it last week. It was funny. It was also thoughtful, i.e. he was making a larger point. That’s good comedy. I hope Netflix stands its ground. Not for the defense of Chapelle alone but for the larger issue at stake. That’s good policy.
Agree. My thoughts exactly.
Chapelle’s special was wicked, as some of the best comedy always is. If the Trans community wants to play the “if you are not with us, then you are against us game”, and turn Chapelle and Rowling’s into their enemies, then that is there prerogative. But before they (pronoun plural) do, they might want to look at who is actually trying to “harm” them, nay kill them. Their real enemies are the Evangelical White Christian Trashionalists who consider them an abomination, not Chapelle, Rowling, me, and most other people who support LBGTQ+ rights.
If the Trans community were to really sit down and look at The Closer, they would realize that the central theme of the show is not a screed of transphobia directed at the LBGTQ+ people, but an attempt by Chapelle against transphobia and a direct assault on cancel culture. But of course, the Trans community is so hypersensitive that all they see is red when anyone makes a joke, not at their expense, but at our larger culture’s automatic over reaction to a perceived slight that is not there.
However, I also know that Dave Chapelle, JK Rowling, and others like to push people’s buttons, especially after the Trans community throws them to the Christian and Islamic fundamentalist lions. After being falsely accused of such crimes against humanity, I think we can all see how Chapelle et al. might get a little irritated. And the buttons they (Chapelle and Rawlings probably hate being referred to they) pushed are hilarious. Who could not laugh when Rawlings tweeted, “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”?
“…the Trans community is so hypersensitive that all they see is red when anyone makes a joke…” In fact, it is far from clear that the noisemakers in question speak for the entire “trans community”, rather than a subsection of it. But it is certainly clear that the Woke community—which should be referred to henceforth as the Wokex—see red when anyone makes a joke period. The Wokex are deeply informed by the awesome seriousness of their own concerns, and of themselves; as a result, they view humor or satire of any kind with puzzlement, often combined with suspicion and hostility.
Illustrating the Streisand effect, I watched this last night because of the criticism. I probably wouldn’t have otherwise, because I haven’t found Chapelle particularly funny.
I found it to be no more transphobic than it was homophobic or misogynistic. Which is to say, he pushed no buttons that haven’t been pushed by any number of comedians before him, as homophobia and misogyny are well-trod comedy tropes. There were a few laugh-out-loud moments, but just a few. Regardless, I didn’t find anything particularly disrespectful of trans people as people. His target was the ideology, and it’s a deserving target.
Re the controversy: it always strikes me that the very same people that believe “lived experience” trumps all when it comes to race and racism are so quick to dismiss the fact that biological women have a very different “lived experience” than trans women. At its heart, this is what his act was getting at.
It is not comedy to simply make fun of people. Chappelle’s brilliance in this Netflix special was his ability to make fun of the excesses of certain groups, to call out the contradictions of their positions and, yes, thank God, to proclaim that twitter is NOT representative of the whole of our society.
BTW – I haven’t laughed so hard in a long time. Yes, I cringed in a few places, too, but good comedy goes places polite society dare not tread.
“d. Do I think the show is likely to incite violence?”
Not against trans people. The trans activists who want Chappelle deplatformed, banned, and probably exiled could easily take a step further and commit or incite violence against him or anyone who defends him.
What Jaclyn Moore would be wise to do is to refrain from casting the first stone in a glass house. “She” is a white producer and head writer for a show that is acclaimed for presenting the Black perspective on current issues.
As for Netflix, I think they are playing the long game. The have been doing so for years. If they start letting activists decide what they can and can not broadcast, it would eventually lead to their destruction.
Unless you watch a lot of non-English film and TV, you might not know the vast variety of global productions Netflix is producing and distributing. A couple of good Korean language shows we have been watching are Netflix productions. They distribute good Hindi crime dramas.
Hundreds of productions in 20 different languages, from my count.
An important point is that they are not at all shy about producing LGBT content. “Out” magazine published the article “57 Netflix Shows With Awesome LGBTQ+ Characters”.
Some day soon, today’s furiously diverse and accommodating content will start to seem really dated. It already does, to some extent. Sure, casting a Black actress as Anne Boleyn or Little Orphan Annie is sort of edgy, and sometimes casting decisions like that can bring out great performances. But edgy and transgressive things never stay that way. It is like fashion.
We have been fans of Chappelle’s work for a long time. If you look at his list of credits over the last 30 years, it is a fairly large body of work.
Teddy Roosevelt is not going to be creating any new content, or establishing any new parks. Canceling him and tearing down his statues will not have the same financial impact as canceling Dave Chappelle. I don’t mean to compare their accomplishments, just their being targeted by the same people.
I bet Netflix is thinking about future revenue, when the current panic is over.
IMHO, there will be a Streisand effect. Because of the articles, I watched the show. It was DC doing his usual, and speaking filterless. I thought it was fine; as someone else said “you can be for transgender rights and biology.” I thought his ending about his friend was touching.
As of Friday, 8PM central….here is the most liked reader comment for that article:
To claim that Netflix is “mired in controversy” over this is the real problem with articles like this. In actuality it is most likely a handful of Netflix employees whose voices are amplified all out of proportion. I applaud Reed Hastings and his willingness to stand up to all those people who love free speech until someone says anything they don’t like.
And second most liked:
South Dakota5h ago
From the tone of this article it appears that the world is rejecting Chappelle and Netflix, but from the tone of every comment section in every article I have read on this story the bulk of people support Chappelle and freedom of speech.
This feels like an attempt to manufacture public opinion much like when a certain authoritarian former president would say “some people” and “many people” to create the sense that there actually were some and many people who believed his line.”