Dave Chappelle Sparks Controversy Again with Netflix Special The Closer

    Dave Chappelle is stirring the pot once again after the release of his newest comedy special on Netflix. The new hour-long concert film, called The Closer, is the sixth and final to hit the streamer as a part of an overall deal with Netflix. Given the controversy this latest outing from the outspoken comedian has already generated in its first few days of release, it’s hard to say if Netflix will be bringing back Dave for more in the future.

    Following similar criticisms in his specials Equanimity and Sticks & Stones, Dave Chappelle drew some ire specifically for jokes about the transgender community. He defends Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling and notes that he’s “Team TERF,” referring to the accusation from Rowling’s critics that she’s a trans-exclusionary radical feminist. Chappelle quipped that this is just a way of “making up words to win arguments.”

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    Among his other comments deemed by some to be offensive, Dave Chappelle also took a moment to address how “cancel culture” addressed problematic remarks made by the rapper DaBaby. Chappelle brought up an incident from DaBaby’s past in which he was involved in a shooting at a North Carolina Walmart that left another man dead. Though DaBaby says he acted in self-defense and wasn’t criminally charged, Chappelle ponders why people seemed to care more about the things DaBaby said over the fact that he’s killed someone.

    “A lot of the LGBTQ community doesn’t know DaBaby’s history. He’s a wild guy,” Chappelle says in the special. “He once shot a [expletive deleted] and killed him. In Walmart. Oh, this is true. Google it. Nothing bad happened to his career.”

    The comedian added, “Do you see where I’m going with this? In our country, you can shoot and kill a [expletive deleted], but you better not hurt a gay person’s feelings!”

    Backlash against Dave Chappelle was swift after The Closer debuted. Some of it has even come from within Netflix, as Dear White People executive producer and showrunner Jaclyn Moore announced she’s parting ways with the streaming service as a result. Taking to Twitter, Moore said, “I will not work with them as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content.”

    “Dave Chappelle’s brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized communities,” another tweet from GLAAD reads. “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.”

    The National Black Justice Coalition, a civil rights organization primarily serving the LGBTQ+ community, also said in a statement to Deadline, “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. Perpetuating transphobia perpetuates violence. Netflix should immediately pull The Closer from its platform and directly apologize to the transgender community.”

    Dave Chappelle isn’t directly responding to the online backlash he’s facing, but in The Closer, he seemed to preemptively address the criticism he knew would come. He close his special with a story about his close friendship with transgender comic Daphne Dorman, who took some flak for defending Chappelle after previous controversy; Dorman died by suicide in 2019. Noting that he’s done with LGBTQ_ jokes, Chappelle also said to his crowd, “Until we are both sure that we are laughing together. I’m telling you, it’s done. I’m done talking about it. All I ask of your community, with all humility: Will you please stop punching down on my people?”

    As of now, The Closer is streaming on Netflix, and it’s still continuing to draw in some mixed opinions. Its audience score on Rotten Tomatoes is at 96%, but the reviewers haven’t been quite so kind. This news comes to us from Deadline.

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