Dave Chappelle's last special on Netflix. I'm going to keep this short because a lot of ink has already been spilt on this, and we are in 2022. Time for a fresh start. Still the conversation continues. But here's my take.
Dave Chappelle works on the absolute highest tight rope. No comedian has ever had the reach that he has. If he is sloppy with his punchlines, or inconsistent, or just wrong, the penalty is high. Even a goat can brick. Ask Michael Jordan. But again, that penalty does not get him "cancelled." No one is taking away anything from Dave. Again, Dave is not cancelled. As he wil remind you, he's still kinda rich, B$@!
His shows are on Netflix. He will have more shows and he will still sell out stadiums. But he fouled. He fouled and got a reaction. That is natural and those who called him on it need to be given space to do so, just the same as he gets a chance to say what he wants, within reason. The people who see the inaccuracies, morally questionable arguements, and logical loopty-loops, or are hurt by them also get to weigh in.
Let me go further. In 8:46, possibly Dave's most iconic (and accurate) special, Dave makes a mistake. He claimed that the same day Chris Donner was killing 9 police officers in a shoot out, Kobe was playing his last game. Dave says, if it wasn't for Kobe, the country would have gone up in the flames of reactionary violence right then. Kobe saved the country by doing what he did best on one of his best days. Except that is wrong.
Kobe's last game was in 2016. Donner's shoot out was in 2013. Dave made a powerful point with this story, but on the facts he was way off. Worse, Dave didn't need to connect Kobe to Chris to make his point. It would have been so much better if he hadn't. But Dave was telling a story and wanted to use these two stories to make a powerful point. Dave is one hell of a storyteller. There are few comedians who are better.
Why do I bring this up? If Dave can be demonstrably wrong or sloppy on the facts with something that he knows well enough to write mulitple books about, i.e. racism against Black Americans, then we have to accept that at the very least he needs a fact checker. We have to accept that he can also be very wrong about something which he admittedly knows very little about: gender issues. He has said on more than one occasion that he's still figuring this stuff out. So do we take the word of an expert or one who is still completing the assignment (news flash: You can't call yourself TERF and say you are pro-trans rights. Just...no). Or we listen to the people who are acutally living the life, and center their experience in the conversation: Specifically black trans people, but also trans of every variety.
There's a lot more to say here, but look: I like Dave. I think for most of my life, he has been on the whole, amazing. But amazing is clearly not perfect. With great power does come great responsibility. If he has one, we should expect that he exercise the other.
This post came as a response to a FB meme asking if Dave is a villain, hero, or anti-hero. In my opinion, it is an EXTREMELY counter productive, and quite frankly, BS click-baity question. Very not cool. It is obvious. Dave is a hero to Black people, but something else to the LGBTQ, which includes Black people. Heroes are not gods. Heroes are not unfallible. Heroes are not in any way perfect. If they f-up, they should be called on it and be heroic enough to learn from the mistakes and do so publically. to show people how it's done right.
Not my real name, but it does roll right off the tongue, doesn't it?