Over the past three years, Dave Chappelle released three Netflix comedy specials. Each featured a long segment of commentary on transgender people. A second Netflix special released on Oct. 5. It features another long segment mocking transgender people. These specials have triggered a predictable conversation about comedy and bigotry.
This special is a pretty standard comedy routine that has been performed all over the globe for as long as my memory can recall. Chappelle attempts sharp cultural commentary by comparing Black people’s plights with LGBTQ people. However, it falls apart when you consider that Black LGBTQ persons, you know, do exist.
Chappelle makes the observation that White LGBTQ people tend not to pay attention to their Black counterparts when discussing policy and advocacy. However, anyone who is involved in queer activism knows this well and it’s terrible. Then, he immediately dismisses the point by siding with J.K., the closest thing to a queen among white people. Rowling then immediately dismisses this point by taking sides with J.K., who is the closest thing we have to a queen of the white people. The person who invented the term believes they were not the first to put it online.
Chappelle’s routine almost ignores Black queer people who are also subject to homophobia and racism. He treats the Black community like a separate entity from LGBTQ people. He’s ridiculed and has drawn criticism from Black LGBTQ people, such as Raquel Willis , a trans advocate and writer.
This is not new for Chappelle. He declares in his special “Twitter doesn’t exist.” It’s a convenient method to divert legitimate criticism. His critics find themselves in a double-bind of Chappelle’s creation. They get rebuked if they don’t see his special and criticize his attacks on trans persons. But if they do, they are free to criticize because, as Chappelle said in his special: “You clicked on me.”
This is the whole point of his bit. You don’t have any standing to criticize if you don’t watch. But if you do, you not only have your click, your view and a chit to help him land a fifth special. Chappelle wins. If you’re able to watch, you can laugh all the way up to the bank.
Chappelle made a public appearance at The Hollywood Bowl last Wednesday, talking about “cancel culture,” which is a familiar refrain for those who consider themselves to be edgy. He said, “If this is the meaning of being canceled it is, I love that.” He would, and why not? After completing the entire “cancel culture parade” in the first three, he’s now coming off his fourth Netflix special.
His transgender bits have helped him resurrect his career. He said that the idea of being transgender was funny. He used the backlash from the trans community to fuel his next special, and every subsequent one.
He’s earned a reputation for being openly transphobic, which has allowed him to reach a wider audience with his specials. They have responded to Chappelle’s claims on social media with an unwavering defense, making him almost a mythical character on the same level as Rowling. He claims he has finished ragging about the trans community, and will now move on to other topics for future specials.
He discovered more than just that there is a segment of people who will listen to anything that claims to be “canceled”, no matter what material it may contain. This is the modern way to say that a creator’s work is controversial or “edgy,” and many consumers flock like moths to a flame.
Cancel Me Dad has dubbed this “cancel culture economy.” It’s the fastest and most efficient way to make money in modern America. The infrastructure for media attention is already in place. Opportunities are available to those who don’t mind being offended or going too far.
The truth is that the only person who got “canceled” in the whole Chappelle mess was a trans Netflix employee , who was suspended for critiquing the special and Netflix running it.
Indirectly, even writing this article helps Chappelle by getting more attention. Although I find it offensive, his comments should not be ignored. This is especially true when almost 40 transgender women of color were killed in the U.S. last year. Although Chappelle is not responsible for these deaths, the murders of nearly 40 trans women of color in the United States are just 40 reasons why Chappelle’s jokes don’t make any sense.