More Chappelle

This is hysterical! My inbox is blowing up! I don’t get anywhere near this amount of response when I write about music. As George Drakoulias said to me on the Staples Center floor, he used to argue about records, not anymore. How did the cultural zeitgeist switch so much? Did music let us down or is it just that issues of gender and democracy have more gravitas.

Which is what Dave Chappelle is trying to address here, the society we live in.

I watched it.

But first I started listening in the car on my drive back from Santa Monica, starting around the recommended 55:00, when Chappelle goes deep, focusing on the trans comedian. And what did I think? WHAT IS ALL THE HOOPLA ABOUT! I mean this has been in the news for days and no one has actually written what Chappelle actually said?

Of course there is cherry-picking. Just like they do on the right. But in context, Chappelle gets a pass. The fact that trans people want him canceled is ridiculous.

Not that I think Chappelle needs to be applauded, to a great degree he’s appealing to a dumbed-down public that believes it’s oppressed when it is reaping the fruits, like white men. Then again, affirmative action is anathema, unless it is for white people!

So I got home and I started watching from the beginning. I was cruising along and then Chappelle made a very funny but quite offensive joke about Jews and Israel. And I found it funny that there was no blowback about this. I mean usually the ADL is on this stuff. So I’m thinking, Sarah Silverman made that absolutely brilliant joke about Asian people, that got her blowback, and it was years ago. It was an intellectual twist couched in stupidity and when you thought about it you couldn’t stop laughing, it’s still hilarious today. Then again, Silverman wasn’t putting down Asians.

So the longer I watched “The Closer,” the less funny and interesting it became. I mean the man doth protest too much. That’s the nature of being a celebrity, the online hate. And the fact that he admits it gets to him, does that help the problem at all? A slew of articles in “The Wall Street Journal” have had a much greater effect. But there is no celebrity involved in that story, except for Mark Zuckerberg, and people want his money, maybe even his power, but they don’t want to hang out with him and have sex, which is the essence of a big time celebrity. They radiate a charisma that draws you to them.

So the e-mail is flowing and suddenly I’m confronted with the issue confronting the antivaxxers. Do I double down on my position or am I open to saying I’m wrong.


Not about everything, but about the trans brouhaha re the special. I’ll stand by a lot of peripheral things I said, but I don’t want to muddy the water, I was wrong, plain and simple.

And that’s the most important thing, but even more interesting was the feeling of belonging. Seemed like everybody had seen the special, I wanted to be a member of the club, so I could talk about it further. And I’ve learned seemingly better than Chappelle that you can’t pay attention to the feedback, the rabble-rousers. I mean come on, you’re Dave Chappelle and they’re..?

As for Twitter not being a real place. Oh yes it is, it may be virtual but it’s patently real. The news media keeps saying it’s a self-selecting society whilst addicted and quoting from it. That’s the world we now live in, where what happens online is seemingly always more interesting than real life. After all you can cater your online time to your interests. So why in hell did Netflix not use the online tools to spread the message?

It would have been very simple. Post an excerpt of the special on YouTube. It would have quieted people, put the protesters in perspective. But so worried about putting stuff outside the paywall, it didn’t. Meanwhile, HBO posted John Oliver’s complete episodes on YouTube and Bill Maher’s show is available as a free podcast moments after it finishes airing. Want to clear the air? Put a little sunlight on the issue.

And I will say if you’re a minority it’s frustrating to be talked down to by white males time and time again, it’s like you don’t even count. It’s kind of like Killer Mike on “Real Time” a couple of weeks ago. Mike said Blacks got Biden elected, they performed their magic and leveled the playing field in the Senate. But everything they were promised in return never arrived. Free community college, free child care… No, those must be secondary to the white issues, they’ve got to take one for the team. Huh? The Blacks vote time and again for Democrats and then they’re told to get in the back of the bus.

Which is kind of Chappelle’s point re the women’s movement. He’s got sympathy for Black people first. But he also understands the women’s plight better than they do. He says celebrities should fire their agents and enable the woman in the mailroom, who can’t get ahead. Look at LeBron James, he’s got a team of Blacks from his hometown, led by his childhood friend Maverick Carter, and he seems to be doing better than all his contemporaries. Carter wasn’t born into the business, but he was willing to learn, after all celebrity/Hollywood business is not rocket science. Oftentimes, it’s just a matter of leverage, albeit with bullying.

So Chappelle’s ultimate point, that the minority groups are too strident and they’re doing their cause a disservice? I hear it. He’s right about the trans people at Netflix. But why is the kerfuffle being kept alive in the press. Where people who don’t watch the special spend their time and get a misimpression. Are these scribes just reporting, or is there an underlying issue…do they really just want to preach to their subscribers?

Can we never talk about trans people again, is the whole topic taboo?


Then again, the suits are scared of the talent, if the talent is big enough, it has huge leverage and opportunity. Then again, Chappelle should make more money than most of the suits, he’s the one drawing eyeballs. I mean Reed Hastings came up with the concept of Netflix, but why do the suits with little creativity end up richer than the talent, always?

Do I recommend you watch the Chappelle special?

You don’t need to. Unless you want to weigh in on this subject, i.e. the trans debate, whether Chappelle should be canceled.

And Chappelle really saves himself with his ending bit, about the trans comedian, but before that you’ll wince at times. Not that he should not be able to say what he does, but to a degree he’s fanning the flames of biased people. First and foremost the Chappelle fans, who believe he can do no wrong. I think it’s fine to blow back, and people should. I mean this is his whole routine, talking about how hard it is to be a comedian and speak your truth? Not that there aren’t great observations contained therein, but the ultimate spin…this is my last special for a while, but I’ve just got to tell you how I’ve been burdened and… It’s like the special doesn’t exist in context, it’s just for the people who watch it.

And that would be fine, except what are the basic precepts of this audience?

In the old pre-internet days, never mind the pre-cable days, we would all consume the same material and then weigh in on it. Not that I want to go back to those days, I prefer the cornucopia of content. But society has suffered, we’re no longer in it together, the truth cannot reach everybody.

Like there’s no way in hell Chappelle should be canceled for this special.

But, Netflix could have done a much better job of defending him.

And then there’s the issue of the trans protests. I get it, woke society, everybody’s got to lay off. But, once again, there is a line, where is it? It’s obviously not at Chappelle in this special, but elsewhere transphobia is rampant, and it’s not the benign transphobia Chappelle labels himself with.

So what we’ve got is a discussion point.

And informed and uninformed.

And a lack of sunshine on the underlying product.

It’s a microcosm of America in general.

And I was honest in saying I hadn’t watched the special. But no one caught that point, they equated me with the rest of the bloviators who comment on that which they’re unaware of. THAT WAS EXACTLY MY POINT! That didn’t make me right, but no one could set aside their biases for a minute and look at the issue from my perspective. If they disagreed thereafter, fine with me. But no, I’ve got scores and scores of e-mails saying WATCH THE SPECIAL! That doesn’t convince antivaxxers to get the jab, they just dig in deeper.

I won’t dig in deeper. I’ll try to crawl out of the hole I dug. I was wrong, full stop.

But the issues remain.

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