I didn’t know who Dave Chappelle was, but the protests against his latest show made me curious. See “Netflix Loses Its Glow as Critics Target Chappelle Special” (NYT), for example:
Internally, the tech company that revolutionized Hollywood is now in an uproar as employees challenge the executives responsible for its success and accuse the streaming service of facilitating the spread of hate speech and perhaps inciting violence. At the center of the unrest is “The Closer,” the much-anticipated special from the Emmy-winning comedian Dave Chappelle, which debuted on Oct. 5 and was the fourth-most-watched program on Netflix in the United States on Thursday. In the show, Mr. Chappelle comments mockingly on transgender people and aligns himself with the author J.K. Rowling as “Team TERF,” an acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist, a term used for a group of people who argue that a transgender woman’s biological sex determines her gender and can’t be changed.
Complaints like the above made me violate my rule of watching only content targeted at 6-year-olds.
I’m not sure that Chappelle is specifically anti-2SLGBTQQIA+. Much of what he said seemed to fall under the general category of mocking white people who don the victim mantle and demand favorable treatment, e.g., being hired for a job. Chappelle doesn’t say whether or not he believes that Americans should be sorted by victimhood, e.g., in university admissions and hiring, but if Americans are going to be sorted by victimhood he doesn’t think that a white woman is more entitled than a Black man nor that a white person who spends his/her/zir/their evenings having 2SLGBTQQIA+ sex is entitled to special treatment when applying for jobs during the daylight hours.
I wonder if part of the reason that white saviors are upset by this show is that Chappelle explicitly pushes back on the value of white saviors. He quotes a Black woman writer friend who, asked whether she was going to knit a pink pussyhat and join the Women’s March of 2017, responded “I hope those white bitches get teargassed.”
Trigger warning: He uses the N-word a lot.
Loosely related… “This Is What Will Make Sex Work in New York Safer” (NYT, 10/17):
When I took my first client as a sex worker in the 1980s, I had no other choice. It was right after the fall of the dictatorship in Argentina. As a young trans woman, I found that sex work was the only way for me to survive, but I faced constant harassment and violence, especially from la policía. So, I left my home to come to the United States, thinking things would be different.
But when I got here, I had no more luck. On top of being trans, now I also struggled with being undocumented and learning English. Once again, I turned to sex work to stay afloat.
Chappelle might point out that an article like this, on the victimhood of a white 2SLGBTQQIA+ migrant sex worker, takes up space and attention that, if one were going to dwell on victimhood, would properly belong to Black Americans. But he wouldn’t say it that way. He would instead mock the interest that white say-gooding Americans have in this kind of story.
Readers: Did you see this show? What did you think of Mr. Chappelle?