Dave Chappelle Speaks Out About Cancel Culture Amid Netflix Special Controversy
By Mekishana Pierre
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Dave Chappelle and Netflix are facing intense backlash for the derogatory comments toward the LGBTQ+ community made during the comedian's latest comedy special, and the 48-year-old is speaking out about it.
He's speaking out about "cancel culture," that is, not the actual criticism aimed at his material.
According to multiple reports, when Chappelle took the stage at a sold-out show at L.A.'s Hollywood Bowl on Thursday night, he reiterated his special's messages of kindness and love, and made light of the censure aimed at his special, The Closer.
"If this is what being canceled is like, I love it," he told his applauding audience, according to Deadline. "I don't know what to tell you, except I'm a bad motherf**ker."
According to The Hollywood Reporter, at one point the comedian said, "F**k Twitter. F**k NBC News, ABC News, all these stupid a** networks. I'm not talking to them. I'm talking to you. This is real life.”
The special, currently No. 4 on Netflix's U.S. top 10 list of the streamer's most popular titles, made its debut on Netflix on Tuesday and was immediately met with a wave of disapproval for several transphobic comments.
"Gender is a fact," Chappelle says during the special. "Every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth."
Chappelle also supported rapper DaBaby and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling -- who have both been criticized for anti-gay and transphobic comments -- by identifying as "Team TERF," which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist, an ideology that excludes trans women as women.
This isn't the first time the comedian has faced criticism for his bigoted comments and he references those instances born from his specials, Equanimityand Sticks and Stones. Those aired on Netflix as well.
A spokesperson for Netflix tells ET they have no comment.
GLAAD spoke out against the comic's statements on Twitter, writing, "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."
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
Jaclyn Moore, an executive producer on Netflix's Dear White People, called out the streamer for putting out and profiting from "blatantly and dangerously transphobic content." Noting that she shared the story of her transition on Netflix's LGBTQ+ vertical during the streamer's Pride week, the writer pointed out that airing Chappelle's special gives his speech a global platform.
"Those words have real world consequences. Consequences that every trans woman I know has dealt with," she wrote. "Bruises and panicked phone calls to friends. That's real."
I told the story of my transition for @netflix and @most's Pride week. It's a network that's been my home on @DearWhitePeople. I've loved working there.
I will not work with them as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.
Chappelle was one of my heroes. I was at his comeback show in NYC. But he said he's a TERF. He compared my existence to someone doing blackface. He talks about someone winning a Woman of the Year award despite never having a period should make women mad and that it makes him mad.
So when he says people should be mad a trans woman won a "Woman of the Year" award... When he misgenders... When he says he should've told that mother her daughter WAS A DUDE... I just can't... I can't be a part of a company that thinks that's worth putting out and celebrating.
The National Black Justice Coalition, a civil rights advocacy group serving the LGBTQ+ community, also provided a statement to Variety, urging Netflix to remove the new special from its catalog.
"With 2021 on track to be the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the United States — the majority of whom are Black transgender people — Netflix should know better," NBJC executive director David Johns said in a statement. "Perpetuating transphobia perpetuates violence. Netflix should immediately pull The Closer from its platform and directly apologize to the transgender community."
Terra Fied, a senior software engineer at Netflix, also called out the streamer for promoting the special. "Yesterday we launched another Chappelle special where he attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness — all while trying to pit us against other marginalized groups," she tweeted. "Promoting TERF ideology (which is what we did by giving it a platform yesterday) directly harms trans people, it is not some neutral act."
Being trans is actually pretty funny, if you're someone who actually knows about the subject matter. How could volunteering for a second puberty *not* be funny? That isn't what he is doing though. Our existence is 'funny' to him - and when we object to his harm, we're "offended".
"What we object to is the harm that content like this does to the trans community (especially trans people of color) and VERY specifically Black trans women. People who look like me aren't being killed. I'm a white woman, I get to worry about Starbucks writing "Tara" on my drink," she added. "This is not an argument with two sides. It is an argument with trans people who want to be alive and people who don't want us to be."
What we object to is the harm that content like this does to the trans community (especially trans people of color) and VERY specifically Black trans women. People who look like me aren't being killed. I'm a white woman, I get to worry about Starbucks writing "Tara" on my drink.