After years out of the spotlight Chappelle has reemerged with new material which is just as punchy as it always was. Something in the media landscape has changed though… There’s a new sheriff in town, Cancel Culture. Can Dave Chappelle survive the new breed of SJW?
Dave Chappelle has had a rocky career history with tabloid & news media. He was known for cutting-edge comedy which pushed buttons when he left his hugely successful TV show in 2008 citing lack of artistic control. The media painted him as crazy. I was there and I watched the news coverage. They really made him seem like a loon. Who runs away from a 52 million dollar contract?
David & Goliath
Born out of the women’s #MeToo movement, “Cancel Culture” is a knee jerk reaction to centuries of abusive white straight male oppressive culture. As a liberal white gay man I agree with the plight of the #meToo movement… Women, blacks, gays, lesbians, trans and everyone should have the right to live and breeth without white straight male oppression dictating where and how. I was willing to go along with the movement until Cancel Culture demanded Al Franken, Louis CK, Musician Ryan Adams and numerous other artists simply disappear from public existence. Cancel Culture is a form of tyrannical speech control. It’s a version of “say what we want you to say, and say it the way we want you to say it or we will ruin your career, make you disappear and if you attempt to reappear we will show up and protest your very right to exist and subsist. Cancel Culture works by rewriting the narrative through coastal opinion pieces and activist twitter rants to make an artist seem ineffective, out of touch, needlessly mean or even criminally guilty even when no crime was committed. They will mobilize groups to troll or block public events. How do they generate outrage to mobilize these mobs? Simply pull apart a long thoughtful joke, rip out a short sentence like, Chappelle referring to LGBT as “alphabet people” and walla “Dave Chappelle’s homophobic rant isn’t funny, it’s old, boring and out of touch”. Remove the context and reframe it to change the narrative. It’s a trick Fox News has been using for years and now Vice, HuffPo, MSNBC, WaPo, NYT, WSJ and the twitter-verse learned it too.
Two impressions – NSFW Warning excessive use of n-word.
I have always been a Dave Chappelle fan, not only because he’s funny and often offensive but also because underneath his jokes he’s empathetic to the target of the joke and if you’re paying attention that becomes clear. Throughout his new Netflix special Sticks and Stones, Dave hit’s every taboo with a punchline, gun control, school shootings, child molesation, and of course LGBT rights. He’s not only making fun of LGBT but also identifying the difficulties LGBT groups face against straight oppression. Through each bit there is a chunk of irony and empathy served by Chappelle. These jokes aren’t the tactless gut punches the media would make you think they were.
When the “G” lambasts the “T” in the alphabet car, “There’s no bathrooms for you for the next 4 states” he’s empathetic to trans people not having a bathroom in some states. It’s a preposterous situation that someone can’t use a bathroom for 4 states.
When he’s not drawing innuendo which makes clear that he understands the hardships of LGBT life he’s giving specific examples of how he understands and relates. Then about 1 hour into his special ChappelleChappelle earnestly states, “If your in a group that I made fun of, then just know that I probably only made fun of you if I see myself in you”. People want to oversimplify and take his jokes out of context in order to make them just sound mean or rude. On closer inspection his jokes illuminate a deeper point, he’s shining a light on something true, painful and ironic that even people in the gay/LGBT community can identify with but may be afraid to admit to themselves for fear of retribution from allies. LGBT’s are in the car moving in the same direction but we have different needs from the movement. When the “G” lambasts the “T” in the alphabet car, “There’s no bathrooms for you for the next 4 states” Chappelle’s empathetic to trans people not having a bathroom in some states. It’s a preposterous situation that someone can’t use a bathroom for 4 states. He’s clearly making the point that he understands it’s a terrible situation “T”s are being put in. That’s also a problem G’s no longer have to deal with. It may make you uncomfortable to admit but it’s true, “G”s have different needs than “L”s and it’s funny to hear it out said loud. Meanwhile the whole time he’s telling the alphabet car bit it’s with an empathic voice toward “T”s. People’s fake outrage seems to prevent them from seeing his empathy. Not to draw comparisons, but black people couldn’t use bathrooms in this country for a long period of time either.
“United we stand, divided we fall” – the saying goes… Well I watched the special and I laughed my ass off. Did I break some alphabet rule by allowing Chappelle to create a joke about LGBT that I can laugh at?
Here’s the thing, in this day and age talking about LGBT is a comedic third rail. It’s a death sentence, and Chappelle knows that. 22 minutes in, when relating a story about use of the f-word from his past shows he emphatically states, “What I didn’t realize at the time is that we were breaking an unwritten and unspoken rule of show business.” … “You are never allowed to upset the alphabet people”. By that he means “LGBT”. He’s calling our bluff. He’s all but telling us some of our activism is hot air and fake outrage, and at the same time in so many words he’s saying he identifies with us and our desire to exist unoppressed. It’s ironic that so many are pretending to be tone deaf to ignore his message or aren’t clever enough to hear it in the first place. He’s a black man who has faced huge oppression and is literally saying he identifies with you. He’s describing LGBT issues and relationships fairly accurately and it’s funny, but we don’t want to hear it because it’s not being said by an LGBT person. That wreaks of double standards and double standards are crap.
We should be able to laugh at ourselves. Let’s stop taking comedians, musicians, and damaged public figures away. I got news for you, we’re damaged just like Chappelle admits to being and when the backlash hits they will come for you just as they are coming after Chappelle. Or is that what you are trying to preempt? If there is one thing that we all know it’s that you can’t sanitize this political situation and you can’t snuff out the bigots. You must accept the damage in you, in Chappelle and in everyone. Demonstrate acceptance and absolution. Cancel culture is narcissistic and fascistic, and it must end.
Do you think he didn’t perfectly string these jokes together by first describing Cancel Culture as toxic and ending by telling you he [a black muslim man labeled by the media as crazy] identifies with the pain society causes LGBT [LGBT was labeled as technically crazy until 1973]? He’s not shouting at you from a golden tower. He consistently illustrates that he’s damaged and hypocritical just as we all are.
Everyone is asking “What happened to Dave Chappelle?” What if I told you he didn’t change, we did.