Should Netflix cancel Dave Chappelle over trans jokes?

Mathieu Bitton / Netflix

Fact Box

  • Dave Chappelle is an American comedian, actor, producer, and writer known for the 2003 satire comedy “Chappelle’s Show,” but more recently for his $20 million Netflix comedy series.
  • On Thursday evening, October 7, 2021, Chappelle performed at LA’s Hollywood Bowl and received a standing ovation from the crowd as he said, “If this is what being canceled is like, I love it.” 
  • In response to “The Closer,” GLAAD tweeted, “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.”
  • Chappelle released a comedy special “The Closer” on October 5, 2021, that drew criticism for his jokes regarding the transgender community and race; he expressed his support for J.K. Rowling’s anti-trans beliefs while stating, “In our country, you can shoot and kill a n**** but you better not hurt a gay person’s feelings… And this is precisely the disparity that I wish to discuss.”
  • Cancel culture is the practice of mass canceling as a form of “expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure.” This comes in various forms of calling out behavior on social media, boycotting the public figure in question, and removing their platform and power.

Ethan (Yes) 

There's an infinite number of topics that Chappelle could joke about to get his audience to laugh—topics that don't include offending people who are deemed oppressed and are fighting for their rights. In 2021, a great many groups of people are fighting for their rights and recognition. It's important for Chapelle, and everyone for that matter, to remember that we all influence what progress is made in our society. Chappelle's trans jokes give all of his viewers, who may hold to transphobic and bigoted views, an excuse to inhibit the progress towards trans visibility and acceptance.

Netflix has an image to uphold, and transphobia and bigotry of any kind isn't a good look for anyone, let alone a big company like Netflix. The streaming service should be thinking of its reputation and how it can protect its LGBTQ consumers as they hear uproars of protest about them giving bigotry a platform. Those upset over the possibility of the streaming service canceling the comedian are neglecting to remember that Chappelle is a willing participant in his new special and on Netflix period. He must abide by whatever guidelines and expectations Netflix decides on for their content. If Chappelle can't find a new act that doesn't rely on tearing down a marginalized group of individuals, his content shouldn't be aired on Netflix.

This isn't the first time Chappelle has made LGBTQ jokes and received backlash—the comedian has been publicly shamed before for his anti-LGBTQ jokes and clearly hasn't learned his lesson. It's time he faces the consequences. Cancelling Chappelle over his trans jokes will show him and other comedians that the time for offensive humor has passed—it's time to get some new material.

Curtice (No)

That there is even a discussion about Netflix canceling Dave Chappelle over trans jokes says all one needs to know about the sad state of comedy and the frail sensibilities of so many Americans today. Comedy is supposed to be unfiltered, edgy, free to point out societal taboos, and, above all, funny. Thanks to political correctness, where anyone is offended by anything, humor is much harder to execute. Not only can't people take a joke, they can't even stand to hear it

Because of today's cancel culture, the offended party often desires two outcomes: censorship (the desire for no one else to hear the joke) and punishment (in wanting the joke-teller to lose their job and public credibility). This, predictably, has taken a negative toll on comedy, where we are no longer allowed to laugh at ourselves and others. It explains why comedians such as Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld have stopped playing on college campuses. It also explains why the late-night hosts have succumbed to the woke mob and are more political than funny. Mel Brooks has called political correctness 'the death of comedy.'

Today, anyone belonging to the so-called 'marginalized' LGBTQ group is free to do what liberals have often told those on the Right to do—turn off the TV. It has been well-established that watching anyone or anything on Netflix is not compulsory.

One of the greatest, if not the greatest, movie comedies of all time is Mel Brooks’ own Blazing Saddles. The movie, which poked fun at racism, could never be made today because it made fun of almost everything else, too—bigots, politicians, gays, Christians, alcoholics, cowboys, Indians, er, Native Americans, and whatever else was in the way. That is what comedy should be.

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