Dave Chappelle is expressing defiance amid fierce criticism for mocking the transgender community in his latest Netflix special, saying he’s “not bending to anyone’s demands.”
“I say what I said, and, boy, I heard what you said. Oh, my God. How could I not?” Chappelle told an audience in a video posted Monday to his more than 2.3 million followers on Instagram.
“For the record, and I need you to know this, everyone I know from that community has been nothing but loving and supportive. So I don’t know what this nonsense is about,” he said.
The comments mark some of the most extensive public remarks Chappelle has made since “The Closer” premiered on Netflix earlier this month, sparking fierce pushback, including an employee walkout last week.
In the special, Chappelle used crude terms to refer to a transgender person’s anatomy, defended J.K. Rowling against critics who have called the “Harry Potter” author transphobic and said, “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 and Netflix faced backlash for the special, with an LGBT group, the National Black Justice Coalition, calling on the media giant to pull the plug on the program. Transgender Netflix employees and their supporters staged a walkout last week at the company’s Los Angeles headquarters to protest Chappelle’s material.
In the video posted on Instagram, Chappelle denied reports that he was unwilling to meet with members of the LGBTQ+ community to discuss the uproar.
“If they had invited me, I would have accepted it, although I’m confused about what we’re speaking about,” he said.
“If you want to meet with me, I’d be more than willing to, but I have some conditions,” Chappelle said, adding that anyone he would potentially meet with must watch his special beginning to end and come at a place and time of his choosing.
“They said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. Well, it seems like I’m the only one that can’t go to the office anymore,” the 48-year-old comedian said.
“I want everyone in this audience to know that even though the media frames it that it’s me versus that community that it’s not what it is. Do not blame the LBGTQ community for any of this shit. This has nothing to do with them. It’s about corporate interest and what I can say and what I cannot say,” Chappelle said to cheers from the crowd.
While Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos defended Chappelle in a pair of reported memos, Chappelle suggested he had been “canceled” by other film festivals and movie studios in his attempts to screen a documentary that was filmed last year.
“Thank God for Ted Sarandos and Netflix — he’s the only one that didn’t cancel me yet,” Chappelle exclaimed.
A Netflix representative declined ITK’s request for comment.
“I desperately want people to see this movie,” Chappelle said. “But I understand why investors would be nervous and nobody will touch it,” he acknowledged before announcing it would be released in 10 cities throughout the country.
“You will be able to see this movie in its entirety, and you can see what they’re trying to obstruct you from seeing,” he said.
“And you can judge for yourself, but you cannot have this conversation and exclude my voice from it. That is only fair. You have to answer the question, am I canceled or not?” he added.
—Updated at 6:18 p.m.
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