Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP
Dave Chappelle is out with a brand new stand-up set for Netflix, and the woke brigades are already declaring that you can just go ahead and skip the special. His biggest thought crime, at least for Vice‘s Taylor Hosking, is being transphobic.
Chappelle has always been a daredevil comedian willing to take a controversial stance or downplay a serious controversy for laughs, including his early-2000s skits about R. Kelly’s court trials on Chappelle’s Show. But now he chooses to blatantly ignore the historic criticism against his style of comedy and new loud-and-clear criticism from the trans community. His approach comes off like a defiant rejection of change at any cost. As he keeps going down this path, drawing attention to the worst aspects of his important career, the biggest cost will be tarnishing his own legacy.
I find it telling that Hosking is perhaps most offended, not by any one of Chappelle’s jokes, but by his “defiance”; his unwillingness to bend to the howls of the mob.
Personally, I found Chappelle’s new special to be very funny and surprisingly thoughtful. I was intrigued after reading the Netflix blurb that mentioned Chappelle “takes on gun culture” but I was a little surprised to find so much common ground with the comedian. On active shooter drills in school, for example, Chappelle says that “all you’re doing is training these kids to worry.” We’ve noted here (today as a matter of fact) that gun control groups think fear is a great motivator.
Chappelle even discusses his first gun purchase and the reason why he decided to buy a gun. Tell me if this sounds familiar?
“I’m afraid of being attacked.”
Chappelle says he hates guns, but he owns several. He says he doesn’t want them, but he feels like he should have them, because of where he lives and the problems from the opioid epidemic. In his telling, what really prompted him to get a gun, however, was seeing a guy with a rifle strapped across his back walking through Chappelle’s rural farmland. Chappelle so disliked that feeling of not being able to protect yourself that he went down to a local store (a Kmart, as Dave tells it) and bought himself a shotgun.
It’s entirely possible that Chappelle made up the entire story, but if he did, he didn’t do it to make some sort of roundabout point in favor of gun control. I won’t spoil it for you, because his special really is worth watching, but there is no “haha look at the ignorant gun owners” punch line to be found. The closest you’ll find is his suggestion that if we really want gun control, every African American needs to buy a gun. Having said that, I assume that Chappelle, like almost every celebrity out there, supports more gun control laws, but there’s no point in the Netflix special where he demands Congress reinstate a semi-auto ban or anything like that.
Chappelle is ultimately a comedian. He’s on stage to tell jokes, not change the world. But his humor does involve social commentary, and like Joe Rogan, Chappelle is finding a great deal of success in talking to a large number of Americans who have no interest in canceling one another, who don’t want to spend their days perpetually offended, and who can actually take a joke. But being able to take a joke doesn’t mean you don’t care about people. It’s worth noting that Chappelle headlined a benefit concert in Dayton this past weekend, and was clearly moved by the recent active assailant attack in the city.
“We just got to be kind to each other — deliberately and willfully kind, even when it’s hard to do,” Chappelle said.