Who watched the Dave Chappelle special on Netflix?

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?

14 thoughts on “Who watched the Dave Chappelle special on Netflix?

  1. Chapelle’s *The Closer* also tells the story of setting-up a trust fund for the child of a trans friend who committed suicide.

    Hardly the act of someone full of hate.

    • Michael: I think this is actually proof of hate! You know that someone is a racist, for example, when he/she/ze/they says “Some of my best friends are…”

      (My version: “Some of my best friends are extremely rich Black people.”)

  2. I haven’t seen it because I don’t watch Netflix (I don’t exactly share your content rule regarding six year olds but probably close) – I’ve just been fascinated with all of the inflammation he caused with a couple of jokes that he told on Netflix.

    And that’s what is really important. It’s not so much about Dave Chappelle, because he could go and tell his jokes in a Chinese restaurant somewhere for a much smaller audience. A few people might protest but he would be a tiny blip on the radar who doesn’t influence anyone.

    The real story is about Netflix and making sure that the content it produces and the people it allows on its network all pass the LGBTQIA+ smell test from here on out, and that Netflix does a great deal more to create an inclusive and equitable company in the future. Check this article in USA Today, and why Chappelle’s special sets a “dangerous precedent.” First of all, Chappelle has said dangerous things like this:

    “I agree, man,” Chappelle says in his special, amid base jokes *about trans bodies.* “Gender is a fact. 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.”


    First of all, as you read this article, you have to have a special sensitivity to catch the glowing “movement terms” and separate them from the English. I put asterisks around a few of them above. He made jokes *about trans bodies*. Nobody is allowed to do that. Trans bodies are special.

    Anyway: the first line tells you that it’s all downhill for Netflix from here unless they change their ways:

    “Netflix purports to be a beacon for inclusion in front of and behind the camera.”

    A trans employee at Netflix decided they didn’t like Chapelle’s jokes and the company’s decision to run his special, so they leaked confidential viewership data and got fired.

    There’s a lot more, it’s an interesting read. It can summed up like this: “There are no half measures in our revolution. Your company is going to play by our rules the way want tell you to, or we’re going to ruin you. First we’ll make you look sick. Then we’ll make you look like you’re inciting violence. Then we’ll sabotage you. In the end, you will be that shining beacon, so everyone can live authentically and vulnerably. [Check the last sentence].”

    • Also, since I haven’t watched the special (which is deliberate, because I don’t want to be flagged in a Netflix account somewhere as having watched Hate Speech so that an employee can leak the data later on as part of a campaign) I don’t know, but I’ll bet Chappelle made plenty of jokes about *straight bodies* during the show. If Chappelle got up and started telling profanity-filled “base jokes” about the Holy Eucharist (which is literally the Body and Blood of Christ to some people) that would be a yawner nowadays. He wouldn’t tell the joke because it would be BORING!

      I’m old enough to remember the controversy and outcry surrounding Andres Serrano and “Piss Christ.” ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piss_Christ ) Chappelle could probably get up on stage in a Netflix special, whip it out (maybe turn to the back of the room) and piss on a crucifix in a Netscape special and everyone would go: “What’s the big deal? Say something funny about weed and cops, man!”

      But jokes about Trans Bodies? Verboten!

      I can also tell you that’s it’s perfectly fine to make base jokes about Trans Bodies if you’re in the right place, like Berlin in Chicago. Used to hear ’em all the time! But ain’t nobody can do it on a Netflix special!


      So to my mind, this isn’t about Chappelle. It could have been any show or any comedian, his special just happened to intersect in the right place at the right time. This is about control of the narrative and the companies who promulgate it.

  3. At FAANG trans issues are used as another power tool in the arsenal for the suppression of free speech and thought. Race is the other main weapon. Here is Google trying to get a Ukrainian engineer to affirm white privilege (I believe Ukrainians did not enjoy much white privilege in the 20th century!):


    The common theme here is to get subordinates to publicly affirm what they believe to be wrong in order to confuse them, break their will and turn them into compliant robots.

    Forcing people to use certain pronouns should be classified as sexual harassment. Why should a straight male use female pronouns for someone whom he perceives to be a man? That is essentially forcing him to accept the other person as a potential mate.

    (It is fine to do that voluntarily in a private setting with friends, at work it is harassment.)

    Unfortunately. the woke industrial complex is so large and so many salaries depend on it that it will be hard to dismantle it.

    • > Forcing people to use certain pronouns should be classified as sexual harassment. Why should a straight male use female pronouns for someone whom he perceives to be a man? That is essentially forcing him to accept the other person as a potential mate.

      That’s because they are, and don’t you forget it! And if you don’t think so, your THOUGHTS need to change. This not about actions, per se. This is about controlling people’s thoughts – or rather, making sure that that THEY preemptively control their thoughts.

      They want to make sure that the following sentence is UNTHINKABLE:

      “Men do not give birth.”

  4. > I didn’t know who Dave Chappelle was, but…

    …his show got an extra viewer thanks to the controversy! I wonder whether Netflix is counting on the controversy-curiosity effect being big enough to be worth the risk of defying the Church of Woke?

    It’s been done at least once before. An outfit called Protein World ran a “Beach Body Ready” campaign based on the outrageous premise that women prefer to look attractive. “I think it’s fair to say we weren’t expecting this level of exposure … but, it’s fantastic” (PW’s head of marketing).

    Protein World is still in business, but that campaign was in 2015 and the CoW has only gotten stronger. It’ll be interesting to see whether Netflix comes out ahead.

  5. Finally, one more observation. For everyone who thinks this is just a bunch of nonserious people sitting around talking about dick jokes, it’s a lot bigger than that. The USA Today article is written for the unwashed masses, so it strips out a lot of the academic discourse and references. But there some tantalizing leftovers, like this:

    “And with a platform as large as his, Chappelle’s “words carry weight,” Holt adds. “He’s at a point now where his **WORDS BECOME INFORMATION** [emphasis mine]. He can’t do the same stuff he did 20 years ago.”

    This is a very important turn of phrase. 20 years ago, nobody knew who Dave Chappelle was except for a handful of weirdo comedy fans who liked that he smoked a lot of weed. [And our host didn’t know either until recently!] I remember reading about him in Chicago when he was almost a nobody.

    But Chappelle is popular now, and that’s because he’s been promoted into a national and even global star. The Party Made Him, and the Party Can Take Him Away. He can’t tell the same jokes now because his words now have to conform to the accepted ideological agenda that *everyone* potentially influential must adhere to – WITHOUT EXCEPTION. They have people doing the metrics and watching the needles – it’s a big industry and a very large part of academe.

  6. The real story is how the Space Jews (x2) part of Chappelle’s Netflix special has been completely overlooked by mainstream everything!

  7. Dave did not lay a glove on Globo Homo.

    He mostly followed the main stream narrative with a couple “digs”

    Not edgy at all.

  8. The NYT is toning it down, presumably because its priorities lie in appeasing the financial establishment:


    “Many on Netflix’s staff were angered by Mr. Chappelle’s special, criticizing it as transphobic and harmful to transgender people. ”

    Most other publications condemn Chapelle’s heinous act as “definitely transphobic”; here only the employees think it is transphobic. Time for the other publications to read the most recent Party Bulletin before getting out of line!

  9. I did and didn’t see what uproar was about so just finished watching again.funnier the 2nd time. I don’t get it

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