I just finished watching Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix special “The Closer” after hearing about the backlash against his alleged transphobic jokes. I have some thoughts. Here they are.
I like Dave Chappelle. I’m sure like most people my age (36 when writing this) who were in their late teens and early twenties when the Chappelle Show was on back in the mid aughts, I am a fan. I haven’t eagerly followed the comedian’s career. I don’t watch standup all that often, though I do enjoy it when I do, and Dave Chappelle is a comedian par excellence.
His latest (and possibly last) Netflix special “The Closer” spends a good deal of time on the subject of LGBT people. Many of the Social Justice ilk were not amused. After watching the entire special, I find this odd. Sure, Chappelle took jabs at LGBT people, just like he did with white people, black people, Asian people, and Jewish people. But the entire show seemed to me like an ode, and even apology, to the LGBT community with whose expense he has made jokes in the past.
Now, I certainly don’t have the intersectional bona fides of many of Chappelle’s critics. As a white, heterosexual man I have to scrape the bottom of the oppression barrel to cobble together the grievances for which I ought to be outraged: I’m fat, severely depressed and Schizoid (neurodiverse?), and a (recovering) alcoholic and addict. Yet I find jokes at the expense of fat people, depressed people, those with personality disorders, and alcoholics/addicts hilarious. Hell, the best jokes at the expense of alcoholics and addicts are heard at AA meetings. We love talking about the stupid, embarrassing shit we did while fucked up. And alcoholics/addicts are an easy target, because everyone acts ridiculous while under the influence.
But back to “The Closer.” The crux of Chappelle’s latest special was his personal journey toward empathizing and sympathizing with LGBT people, and transgender people in particular. Is this not exactly what the LGBT people who criticized Chappelle for his last special were hoping for? If the point of all the criticism isn’t to help people see LGBT people as human, then what is it for? And let us not forget that Chappelle is a comedian, and his brand of humor is very distinctly Dave Chappelle. Were people expecting him not to make the kinds of jokes he did while simultaneously leading the audience through his experience? (Chappelle’s long story about amateur comedian and transgender woman Daphne Dorman, to the right in the main image, was very heartfelt and honest; I struggle to see malice behind what Chappelle was doing). Indeed, though I haven’t gone looking for it, I can just imagine many of the anti-LGBT ilk who have latched onto Chappelle’s criticism of political correctness also denouncing him for being too pro-LGBT after seeing this special.
It seems to me that the part of the special that will be a sticking point for trans activists is when Chappelle proclaims himself to be a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist), declaring that he believes “gender” to be a fact. I think, in the context of the rest of the show, it seems Chappelle was saying that sex is a fact while embracing the spectrum view of gender as it is understood as an experience of self identity (mind rather than body). Maybe I’m wrong about that interpretation, I don’t know. But I do know that policing language is a favorite pastime of the woke crowd, and in that sense I could maybe see a criticism of Chappelle being that he ought to have been more explicit in how he distinguished between sex and gender so as to avoid misunderstandings. I don’t think this should have been necessary, but I could at least understand such a criticism. Unfortunately, it is also in vogue for people to claim that sex is not a biological fact but a construct. Thus, I don’t know if even making that distinction would have helped him.
The transgender topic is a minefield. The radical Social Justice crowd believes there is only one single path through that minefield. It does not matter to them if you think transgender people are real, that they exist, that they ought to have rights and be treated with dignity, and that they ought to be free to express themselves however they want (all things I believe, by the way). If you take one misstep, like believing that being transgender has a factual, biological, and neurological basis (which I also believe, due to the weight of the evidence), you still end up stepping on a mine and blowing yourself up. Indeed, it’s probably foolish of me to even make this post, because it’s likely to just make everyone upset – the radical leftists and the anti-LGBT crowd.
It’s illustrative of the radical Social Justice wing of the transgender community that they bullied Daphne Dorman, a transgender woman, until she committed suicide. All because she stood up for Dave Chappelle. The so-called Wokesters don’t care as much about the people they claim to advocate for as they do about bullying everyone into submission. Apparently trans lives only matter to the Woke if you accept their strict ideological orthodoxy.
Edit: found this video after I posted this. I think Jared does a good analysis of Chappelle’s special:
Edit 2: another great take on the special by transgender Youtuber Blaire White: