’Dave Chappelle: The Closer’. Picture: Mathieu Bitton/Netflix
’Dave Chappelle: The Closer’. Picture: Mathieu Bitton/Netflix

'Dave Chappelle: The Closer' criticised for homophobic & transphobic jokes

By Shingai Darangwa Time of article published Oct 7, 2021

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Dave Chappelle's new Netflix special, “The Closer”, the final instalment in his six-set Netflix deal, received backlash online for its overt attacks towards the LGBTQI+ community.

Chappelle has garnered critical acclaim over the years for pushing the envelope with his social commentary.

But on this special, as if taking advantage of the fact that it’s his final show from his lucrative Netflix deal, the comedian unleashes a sustained transphobic attack unlike any we’ve seen on the platform.

At one point, in his apparent defence of JK Rowling's widely condemned comments on trans-women last year, Chappelle even goes so far as to declare himself a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist).

He also comes out in support of rapper DaBaby, who's faced sustained criticism for his homophobic comments during a show a few months ago, and used criticism of DaBaby to try and juxtapose how society unjustly makes more of a fuss over homophobia than about systemic racism and the killing of black people.

“You know I go hard in the paint, but even I saw that sh** and was like, ‘G**damn, DaBaby!’... He punched the LGBTQ community right in the AIDS. Can’t do that,” he quipped.

“In our country, you can shoot and kill a n****, but you better not hurt a gay person’s feelings,” he continued, referencing a 2018 incident where DaBaby shot and killed a black man at a Walmart in North Carolina.

It’s a lazy joke that ignores the fact that DaBaby was not charged after he was adjudged to have acted in self-defence.

The premise (or rather, excuse) for all this homophobia and transphobia, it seems, is that the groups he is attacking are more privileged than black people and that white gay people talk down to black people when it suits them.

This argument doesn’t hold up.

Instead, it feels like an excuse to let loose the homophobic and transphobic vitriol he’s been teasing for years.

In fact, many black people and some civil rights organisations, who he would have you think subscribe to his theory (including the National Black Justice Coalition), have condemned the special and urged Netflix to remove it from the platform.

Almost from the moment “The Closer” debuted on Tuesday, several celebrities and industry insiders have taken Chappelle to task for his anti-trans jokes.

“Dear White People” executive producer Jaclyn Moore, whose show has aired on Netflix for four seasons, said on Twitter that she would no longer work with the streamer “as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.”

She went on to add: "I love so many of the people I've worked with at Netflix.

“Brilliant people and executives who have been collaborative and fought for important art.

“But I've been thrown against walls because, "I'm not a 'real' woman." I've had beer bottles thrown at me. So, Netflix, I'm done."

GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) responded to the special by saying: "Dave Chappelle's brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalised 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."

Not everyone has spoken out against the streamer.

Rappers 50 Cent, Chance The Rapper and others came out in support of the comedian.

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