Dave Chappelle refuses to be cancelled
When the social media mob and some in traditional media come to cancel anyone (usually those on the political right), the reaction often results in an apology from that person. And that apology is primarily driven not by remorse but by fear.
Thankfully, in the name of all that is sane and sober, Dave Chappelle – the most fearless comedian of the 21st century, and certainly no conservative – is pushing back on attempts to cancel him. Why did he become a target? His comedy is deemed too offensive, too far over the line, no laughing matter, because he ridicules trans-people – along with just about every other group in America today – in “The Closer,” his latest Netflix special. The 48-year-old Emmy-winner also had the audacity to defend “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, another target of woke warriors on social media because of her views on gender identity.
“They canceled J.K. Rowling — my God,” he said. “Effectively, she said gender was a fact, the trans community got mad as (expletive), they started calling her a TERF,” an acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist.
“I’m Team TERF. I agree. I agree, man. Gender is a fact,” he added.
Those and other comments provoked a backlash, most notably from Jaclyn Moore, who publicly announced her decision to leave Netflix after serving as the executive producer of the streaming giant’s “Dear White People.”
“I love so many of the people I’ve worked with at Netflix,” she tweeted after detailing her own gender transition in a passionate post. “Brilliant people and executives who have been collaborative and fought for important art,” Moore continued. “[But] I will not work with them as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.”
CNN, perhaps predictably, jumped into the mix, too, with several on-air segments on the matter, including one that attempted to indict Chappelle for future transgender fatalities while featuring guests urging a boycott of Netflix.
“Let’s talk about the data and the harm that you’re noting because the National Black Justice Coalition says that this year, quote. ‘is on track to be the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the United States and the majority of whom are black transgender people.’ What do you think needs to be done to address that,” guest anchor Boris Sanchez asked Lina Bradford, a “transgender D.J. and actress.”
“People might want to look into where it is you’re getting your content from,” Bradford replied. “You know, don’t go to comedians and maybe not give your money to a conglomerate that’s very insensitive to a community, but yet okay to take that coin.”
An opinion piece from the network also somehow tied Chappelle to – who else? – Donald Trump.
“That’s not to say Chappelle doesn’t have a right to run his mouth,” writes @claycane. “It cuts both ways, but it’s critical to remember that unlike the communities who bear the brunt of his jokes, Chappelle is in no way powerless.” https://t.co/V6uaYpOBPD
— CNN Opinion (@CNNOpinion) October 12, 2021
On cue, NPR and GLAAD spoke out as well.
Dave Chappelle’s brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized communities. Negative reviews and viewers loudly condemning his latest special is a message to the industry that audiences don’t support platforming anti-LGBTQ diatribes. We agree. https://t.co/yOIyT54819
— GLAAD (@glaad) October 6, 2021
NBC News reported that Chappelle was facing “swift backlash” for the routine, with said swift backlash coming from random tweets from random people with relatively few followers. The Spectator’s Stephen Miller, an astute observer of media, argued (correctly) that the news organization was “searching for outrage” to create a story.
The story cites 3 tweets, one from an account they call “a Twitter user” with 200 followers.
If a news story simply cites you as “one twitter user said..” your opinion isn’t newsworthy. It’s irrelevant.
Facebook is not the problem https://t.co/R8f3xFtieo
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) October 7, 2021
If a news outlet cites “one Twitter user said..” that is NBC going and searching for outrage. That is the journalist searching for any random account upset about Chappelle. That is NBC attempting to create a story where there isn’t one. Facebook. Is. Not. The. Problem.
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) October 7, 2021
Instead of apologizing, or groveling, or trying to appease a mob only interested in ending careers. Chappelle is pushing back in Chappelle-esque fashion. “If this is what being canceled is like, I love it. I don’t know what to tell you, except I’m a bad mother-(expletive),” he declared during a performance at the Hollywood Bowl in L.A., earning a standing ovation in the process.
“F— Twitter. F— NBC News, ABC News, all these stupid-ass networks,” he reportedly said. “I’m not talking to them. I’m talking to you. This is real life.”
Netflix is standing by its star.
“Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long-standing deal with him,” Netflix’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos wrote. “His last special ‘Sticks & Stones,’ also controversial, is our most-watched, stickiest and most award-winning stand-up special to date.”
“As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom — even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful,” Sarandos continued.
Here’s a bet: There won’t be any mass cancellation of Netflix accounts. In fact, Netflix will likely gain subscriptions, because what’s hot or trending on Twitter calling for boycotts and cancellations look much worse than they ever really are. The outrage comes and goes like the tide. The outrage is sound and fury, usually signifying nothing.
Another all-time comedy great and star of the best TV show ever, Jerry Seinfeld, warned about political correctness destroying comedy back in 2015. “They just want to use these words — ‘That’s racist.’ ‘That’s sexist,’ ‘That’s prejudice.’ They don’t even know what the f—k they’re talking about,” Seinfeld told ESPN.
“I have no interest in gender or race or anything like that,” he later added. “But everyone else is kind of, with their calculating — is this the exact right mix? I think that’s, to me, it’s anti-comedy. It’s more about PC-nonsense.”
Netflix is standing by Chappelle. Chappelle is blistering his critics.
Good for them. To both, nothing is considered too politically incorrect. Or out of bounds.
That’s kinda the point of comedy.
But in 2021, we have “right” speech and “wrong” speech — determined by the judge and jury that is the Twitter mob and traditional media. Now that’s comedy, albeit of the unintentional variety.
A line has to be drawn somewhere in this craziness that is cancel culture. This appears to be it.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill and a Fox News contributor.