Thursday, October 28, 2021

Dave Chappelle's "The Closer," Edgy Comedians, and Cancel Culture

Lately, everyone's mad (or at least riled up) about Dave Chappelle's "The Closer" on Netflix. I made two videos about it. The first one is about edgy comedy in general, and a few things we need to consider when transgressive comedy is in the news.

The second one is about the transgressive comedy special of the hour, Dave Chappelle's "The Closer" on Netflix, where he really tried to get cancelled by taking aim at trans folk. (ps: he's not cancelled). There's been a big discussion and a lot of points of view expressed on the issue of Chappelle's special, and the issues in Chappelle's special.

I hope you like them!

In all this, I think it's important to make sure that we're listening to what actual trans people are saying rather than getting carried away with what is being said about them. I am dismayed to find there are a lot of articles talking about Chappelle, about Netflix, about the media furor, and about the Netflix employees who walked out in protest of the special, but I'm down on page two and three and four of the google search results, and still finding a very disappointing lack of articles reporting trans folks' take on Chappelle's comments.

Here are some articles featuring the voices of trans people, talking about Chappelle's special. Please make sure the subjects of the conversation have their voices heard.

CNN asked four trans comedians what they thought of Chappelle's special.

CBC has a video which includes a black trans artist on the panel, who makes some good points.

Comedian Dahlia Belle has a response in the Guardian that's blistering.

A very good perspective from the Independent: 

Back in 2005, there was a very specific incident that had made Chappelle realise his comedy might be harmful. In a sketch he considered to be ironic, he was dressed in blackface and dancing, when he heard the loud echo of a white man’s laughter reverberate across the set. To Chappelle, this was evidence that his satire wasn’t working: regardless of his intention, some people felt he was giving them the green light to laugh at an oppressed minority. Over 15 years later, The Closer confirms that Chappelle is no closer to remedying his original problem. After all, he is still drawing out mean-spirited laughs from a crowd – the difference is that the laughs are now at the expense of another marginalised group.

This Vox article includes vital statistics about the frequency of violence and abuse against trans people, including domestic violence, workplace harassment, hate crimes, homelessness, and suicide.

This LA Times article quotes several transgender people who worked with or for Netflix, including Terra Field, the Netflix employee who was fired (and re-hired) for speaking out against Netflix.

This report quotes trans activist Drian Juarez.

Readers, if you have another trans voice who's weighed in on this topic, please link it in the comments.

More facts about violence against transgender and nonbinary people. If you can watch a Chappelle special full of trans jokes, don't look away from this.

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