Dave Chappelle willing to discuss ‘The Closer’ with trans community, but says he’s ‘not bending to anybody’s demands’
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- Ellise Shafer
- Oct 25 2021
- Word count
- 477 words
This woe is me response from Dave is really gross and I think shows that he does not take any of this criticism seriously.
I am also absolutely furious that Dave has the gall to throw some shade at Hannah Gadsby.
Hannah's two specials Douglas and Nannette have been the best comedy i've seen on Netflix or elsewhere in years. It is extremely telling that he is now attacking a Hannah who is autistic and a lesbian for her comedy, when she has had nothing to do with his bullshit that has continued to spill out over the last few years.
Not to mention, Dave's whole ethos to comedy has been that storytelling and being interesting is just as if not more important than being funny.
Hannah Gadsby's specials have the benefit of being both extremely interesting and fucking hilarious.
I think Chapelle raised fair points. Also it’s worth mentioning that most of his career has consisted of jokes at the expense of his fellow black community.
In the special, some things said were quite provocative, but that’s his platform, so to speak. The reality is that there are significant issues in America’s representation of minorities. Marginalizing any further is almost absurd at this point. He brought up a touchy subject which not many people want to acknowledge, which is that the efforts by any minority community, if not made with other minority communities in mind, is a destructive path furthering marginalization and polarization between these communities.
I’m a Cis white male, so my perspective may not be the same as others on this topic, but I think this topic is worthy of exploring, especially from the perspective of one who has not experienced what it truly means to be a minority.
I’m on the fence right now on now I feel about Chapelle. He pushed some boundaries, which is what comedians do. But what comes next of him in this debacle is what defines him as an individual (imho).
May I suggest you seek out any of the dozens of amazing moderately successful and very accessible trans comics out there if you want to understand this topic through comedy, rather than a cisgender dude whose comedy routine about trans people completely neglects trans men and non-binary people and includes self-identifying as a bigot?
Are there any with specials on one of the streaming platforms (specifically netflix, hulu, or amazon prime since that's what I have) that you could recommend?
No, but that's part of the problem... folks who get streaming deals tend to be people who already have huge audiences. D'Lo is one of my favorite actors (he's been in Mr. Robot, Sense8, and a bunch of other stuff) but his comedy hasn't been picked up widely. Brandy Bryant, James Tison and Sunny Laprade are pretty neat too; I mostly know them from TikTok but they do perform live.
As I mentioned in the other reply comment, I was not talking about the trans experience. I was talking about the unifying correlations between minority groups in the US. I apologies that was unclear in my first comment.
Truth be told, I dislike comedy in general specifically because it almost inherently involves making a joke at another person or groups expense. Granted there are some comedians who make an exception to this rule, but I feel the waters are too polluted for me to want to swim (or find these comedians).
Though, while there are comments that are absolutely insensitive to the LGBQT community that even I as "cisgendered dude" felt went too far, I don't think it's an accurate assessment to summarize this special as a routine about trans people.
Here is the transcript of the special - https://scrapsfromtheloft.com/comedy/dave-chappelle-the-closer-transcript/.
Dave uses the word trans 19 times, transgender 8 times, transphobic 6 times, gay 33 times, LGBTQ five times, and TERF three times.
Dave spends approximately the last full third of his 72 minute special talking about trans people along with a very long segment about the LBGTQ community and gay people early on in his special.
Dave says this is the last time he will talk about LGBTQ community in a comedy special. Dave ends his show on his huge long trans rant. His rant is his "closer", which is the name of this special.
This is absolutely a special very focused on trans people with a sprinkling of other topics, though many of them also circle back on gay and trans people.
I really dont know how you can see this special is not about trans people.
I'm simply saying that I feel like the points brought up in this portion of the special are worth exploring, from my perspective as a cis white male.
What points? You still have not said one item of his special that you think is actually a good point. Do you think his declaration that "gender is a fact" is a worthy topic? That trans peoples genitals are up for debate? That being a TERF is something to be celebrated?
I did specify in other comments. I had no intent on this becoming an uncivilized debate. Please take a moment to read my other comments, and consider an opposing perspective before eluding to the notion that I’m anti trans because I stated there are correlations in the struggles between minority groups in America.
With all due respect, I made no assumptions or judgments of you for your stance on this topic, and would appreciate the same grace in return.
Not dub but I’ve watched the special, read the transcript of the special, and read all of your comments in this thread multiple times. I still have no idea what the core point you are trying to make is other than you think there are some interesting statements about either (a) intersectionality or (b) how marginalized groups experience similar prejudices (im not sure which you’re saying) in the special but won’t say what those points are. Dub is assuming bad faith because they have repeatedly tried to understand what point you are trying to make and each time it seems like you purposefully avoid actually making a clear, digestible statement about what you think is worth talking about in the special wrt the trans experience. The vibe it gives off to them is one of someone who agrees with the transphobia in the special but isn’t willing to directly say so and they think that because they (dub) have a lot of experience with the far-right online and that type of vague post is a very common tactic of the far right.
Probably both to be honest. I did not expect such a huge response to my comment, as frankly I wasn’t thinking of the implications it had at the time.
After reading yours and a small handful of other comments which make an attempt to share a greater understanding of the effect of my words, Im starting to understand the defensive nature of the responses to my initial comment. I steered around the topic at hand to bring up a completely separate topic, nestled in between some very insensitive stuff. Stuff that I honestly will never understand the full effect of. By neglecting to mention what I disagree with, it opened speculation to assume I agree with any of all of it.
I completely admit, poor choice of words on my behalf, and I apologize for the negative emotions it has caused others.
That said, I greatly appreciate you sharing this perspective with me which has allowed me to better understand the impact of my words and actions originating from a place of privilege.
I do wish I could have a conversation about intersectionality, and the similarities between minority group’s experiences.. But I also realize this was not the right approach.
I read your other comments and like Micycle, still have no idea what your point is, which is why I keep asking you questions to expand on your thoughts and make more definitive statements.
The following comment is about the most you have said and reads like gibberish.
Hear you mention a couple of things Dave said, but do not explain what was relevant, interesting, or of value in these topics. You also literally say you are being purposefully vague and then are dismissive assuming myself or others have not watched the special.
Your purposefully vague and meandering responses make it come off like you support the hateful comments that Dave made but are afraid to state so outright.
So again, ill ask you, what is your "opposing perspective"? If you want to have a meaningful discussion you have to actually explain what your views are so people can understand them.
What points exactly about his trans commentary did you think were fair?
Yes, it is his platform and it is perfectly valid to criticize him for using that platform to promote bigotry.
I honestly have no idea what you mean by any of this.
Again, what topic do you think is wprth "exploring" exactly?
None, actually. I should have specified that I was referring to the stuff he said towards the end of the special where he correlates the two experiences as minorities to each other.
There was a piece in the special where he talked about a fictional character names "Clifford", as well as sharing some understanding of the experience of being an African American in the US. He also brought up the "OG Stone Wall" folks, and eluded to the differing ideologies of their past to their present. I'm being vague here, but I would suggest you watch the whole special in its entirety before making a final judgement.
I genuinely feel like there is value to be gained from all parties involved in taking a moment to understand what it is exactly, in their words, what members of any minority group experiences. I would not have gained the understanding that I do of both groups (to be clear here, I'm talking about the LGBQT and African American communities in the US) if I hadn't heard it directly from members of these communities. That required me to put my system of beliefs on pause in order to understand this other individual's human experience and thus their system of beliefs.
That being said, I don't condone any of his anti-trans or any comedian who's skits contain anything-phobic content. I also realized that, thanks to recent events which brought this to light, the majority of the jokes on his Chapelle Show were very misrepresenting of the African American community, and also not acceptable.
Just a reminder, I'm just someone on the internet who decided to share their opposing opinion in an open forum. In no way do I mean to create dismay or unrest, and appreciate you taking the time to read my thoughts.
It's worth remembering that these aren't separate groups. Transness isn't a white phenomenon, and blackness isn't a straight, cis one. Some of the people hit hardest by transphobic laws and attitudes, especially in the US, are black trans women.
And in fact that's one of the main criticisms I've seen about his special - treating "LGBQT and African American communities in the US" as separate harms Black folks who are LBGTQ.
I think this is one of the only responses to my comment which remotely touches on what was actually said. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to take what I have to say into consideration before making a judgement.
I'm glad I could be helpful! If you don't mind, some advice on this - you mention "some points", "this topic", etc in a way that's very open to misinterpretation. Specificity is important in textual communication.
Very true. Especially with a topic that is very sensitive these days. I was going out on a limb hoping that the members of this community would be willing to have a meaningful discussion about the topic of correlations between minority group’s struggles, to enlighten me on something that I cannot claim to have experienced. I get the feeling simply stating I’m a cis white make was enough for my notions to be disregarded. Which is understandable, but also a bit disheartening.
It's really, really, really hard for someone to engage with content that is directly accusatory, demeaning, erases their identity, dehumanizes them, or otherwise treats them in a strongly negative light. I understand that you wish to engage with a certain message presented in this special, because you believe it has merit. However, there is a fundamental issue with the way the message is presented, and it's that it's presented alongside a truly horrific message. The message is one in which the presenter identifies with a group of individuals who are explicitly exclusionary and dehumanizing of a set of minorities. It's presented alongside a message involving an individual which has been used, repeatedly by the presenter as a way to justify their actions, despite historically treating them in a way which erases their identity and doesn't respect them as individuals. It's presented in a purposefully inflammatory way, almost asking for members of the identity which he is disrespecting to get riled up.
I would like you to stop for a second and think about how humans react to messaging. If someone just spent 30 minutes making fun of you, your identity, your culture, your friends and/or your family - how would you feel? Now what if someone else who didn't share your identity came in and waved their hand and said "ignore all that for a second and let's focus on this one thread which I think has some merit"... would you even want to engage with this person?
Humans are, at their core, emotional beings. This only becomes even more true when we are stressed. Think about the last time you had a bad day - were you more likely to give into your emotions? Did you get angry, upset, or frustrated at people, items, or actions which you normally wouldn't have been, had you not had such a bad day? Science repeatedly finds that minorities are constantly under more stress than those who are not discriminated against by society. Science also finds that people under stress are more likely to act and react emotionally and that their emotions are more likely to be amplified. Because of all this, one of the most important skills a person of privilege can learn to be a helpful ally is to become an expert at emotional intelligence.
I see that you're disengaging with others because you feel they are attacking you for your messaging. It's probably quite frustrating, as it seems like your intent is to engage with a legitimate question or concern that you see. I can't speak for everyone else, but when I see messaging like yours on the internet my initial inclination is to jump towards the idea that the person presenting these ideas is also a bigot. I have to fight this thought, because while it is usually true, it isn't always so and I don't wish to alienate any potential allies. However, given the context of a half hour bigoted rant, it's hard to divorce this idea from the messaging when the person presenting it spends very little time addressing what's problematic with the messaging and only focuses on a specific message within it which might hold some merit. It's easy to imagine that this person may be trying to paint the rest of the rant as valid, given the potential legitimacy of this one point. Or that the person at least partially agrees with the problematic messaging because they don't spend time addressing how degrading and insulting it is. It's almost as in if the person isn't aware how being insulted for thirty minutes deserves some attention too.
I point all this out so that you can better understand how someone who thinks like me might feel, when running across a relatively short comment like yours in a thread which is likely to attract the very people who are being attacked by the person the article focuses on and their allies, friends, and family. I hope that this small bit of insight into how I think and feel can help you in the future to avoid alienating anyone you don't wish to alienate. I also help that this information can help others, who feel similarly about this content engage with it (and others) in a healthy way given whatever status they may hold on account of the identities society ascribes to them and the ones they self-identify into.
Thank you for this thoughtful response. In hindsight I can see how my initial comment would come off as the usual bait and switch tactics that far-right folks use. It’s quite vague, and does not touch on the parts of his special that I don’t agree with (which is a large amount).
And yes, you’re entirely right. I feel like some of the responses to my comment were defensive attacks. Justly so, as the LGBQT community has endured, and continues to endure, these sort of pseudo-strategic attacks. I don’t fault anyone for bringing emotion to an incredibly sensitive subject. We are, as you stated, quite emotional creatures.
The reality is that as an outsider looking in, any understanding I can gather on the experiences of any minority groups are purely speculative. Words only go so far. I acknowledge that, and also that historically the group that society identifies me as has an incredibly embarrassing track record. I’ve made conscious changes to how I interact with others in light of these, however it’s clear that there is still work to be done on my part.
I don’t mean to dismiss any of the hateful things that were said in this special. I can see how steering around these hateful things to mention an alternative perspective can be perceived as condoning these actions. I apologize and I appreciate you taking the time to articulate this.
Personally, I do think about the topic of how the “Civil Rights” movement and the “Equal Rights” movement, the similarities between the two (again, from the speculative perspective that I have) that some events and aspects of each appear counterintuitive.
I also realize that while this is something I’d like to explore for my own purposes of understanding, this is a completely different conversation all together.
Also, I gave you the exemplary tag because you shared this in a way that allowed me to understand the true impact of my words. While I certainly should have chose another way to articulate my initial comment, this was the sort of response I was hoping to receive. Thank you for planting this seed of thought.
I'm glad you found it useful, and don't worry too much about how it came off. Your mental effort is best spent on how to present yourself in the future, given this learning opportunity. I'm glad you found this enlightening, as it helps me feel useful to others💜
To be frank, I had no idea what you were talking about until you said something concrete about who and what you were talking about. I'm not interested in disregarding your opinions, but I can't consider them if I don't understand them!
More punching down from Chapelle, why am I not surprised. The man is not, nor has he ever been funny nor interesting in my opinion. He uses his platform to attack bigots but is himself one, and unapologetically so.
Hypocrisy is as banal as it gets.
I think he's usually funny. And I don't need to take that away from him to say he's wrong.
It's great that you do... he's in a class of comedian that I've never found funny and people don't believe me when I say it, because they got into a scandal and they think I'm bandwagoning: I've never like Chapelle, Louis CK, or Cosby. I've never laughed at a single joke they've told.
I don't begrudge people their opinions, but sometimes I feel like a weird variant of the hipster stereotype: "I thought they weren't funny before anyone else."
There are others I've never cared for (Bill Hicks comes to mind), but I used those three as examples because of their difficulties.
Not everyone who disagrees with you is a liar. Some people just have differing opinions and tastes. Cosby was always smarmy (and his special Bill Cosby, Himself was dull and uninspired), Louis CK was always a hateful ass who confused bile with humor, and Chapelle... I had nothing against him until now, he just merely wasn't funny.
I dunno. I never watched Cosby or Chapelle, but I didn't think Louis CK was particularly funny even before anything came out about him.
Chapelle, a few weeks ago: “If this is what being canceled is like, I love it”
make up your mind. can't have it both ways.
That's a bit disingenuous.
A few weeks ago him being cancelled was just lots of attention and people being upset at what a shock comedian said.
Now people are reacting to the controversy and uninviting him to premieres.
So the acts involved in being "cancelled" changed, it stands to reason that if the outcome changes you should be allowed to change your opinion of whether or not you like it. If you've never had cake before, tried cake, and loved the cake, then the cake was left out on the counter for a few weeks, got old, dry, and moldy, you're allowed to say you don't like that cake any longer.
That’s a fair criticism if we take Chappelle’s words at face value.
I think another way of looking at it is that a lot of people read Chappelle’s first comment as him thumbing his nose at his critics and refusing yet again to demonstrate any empathy toward or understanding of them, their experiences, or their pain. It also has a bit of a sting to it in a sort of “living well is the best revenge” kind of way. Whether he intended this or not, I don’t think it’s an unfair reading of his statement given the context and his comments that reinforce that subtext elsewhere.
That stance, however, only works in his favor when he isn’t experiencing actual consequences besides social blowback. It’s clear he is now facing professional fallout, and he’s perfectly entitled to feel the way that he does about that, but it also makes empathizing with his situation difficult for many observers who do find his commentary harmful. They can now assume the same stance he did with regard to them: thumbing their noses at him.
I agree with you a lot here. It all just seems fake and phony. His whole thing about meeting with trans workers at Netflix is ridiculous altogether when you look at the list of demands they shared in advance of the walkout and surprise surprise, neither meeting with Dave ,or having his special removed was one of them.
It is clear he continues to treat this all as a fun game and forgive me for not shedding a tear that his documentary is being abandoned by everyone else in the film industry when he tells everyone hes a bigot. And really, this is just the most minimal of fallout possible.
He still is a rich millionaire that sells packed shows, has an audience of millions of fans who will forgive him for any transgression, and will continue to make huge specials that he is extremely well compensated for.
That's a reasonable point. So the mockery should have been more like: "How's 'being cancelled' treating you?"
"Oh no, it's the consequences of my own actions!"