Dave Chappelle released a new comedy special, The Closer, on Netflix last night. Which means, with a depressing inevitability, that Chappelle also released a new set of jokes predicated on making fun of trans people, depicting them as thin-skinned bullies bound and determined to push poor, multi-millionaire comedians like Dave Chappelle around. GLAAD has now issued a condemnation of the special, which includes a loud declaration from Chappelle that he’s “Team TERF!” in addition to other transphobic material.
Chappelle, in fact, devotes quite a considerable chunk of The Closer to talking about trans issues—i.e., the issue of trans people asking him not to peddle transphobic “comedy” that involves loudly declaring, “THAT. IS. A. FACT.” while talking, to rapturous applause, about the state of other people’s genitals.
Chappelle spends roughly the entire last third of the 70-minute special on the topic, ending with a promise to stop telling any jokes about the LGBTQ+ community, an assertion that reads less like personal growth, and more like he’s taking his ball and going home before he ends up getting treated in a similar manner to fellow millionaires J.K. Rowling, Kevin Hart, and DaBaby. (All of whom get namechecked in The Closer.)
Unsurprisingly, it has taken very little time for rights groups—most notably GLAAD—to take issue with one of the world’s most powerful entertainment brands paying a very famous comedian millions of dollars to tell these kinds of jokes. GLAAD issued a statement today asserting that, “Dave Chappelle’s brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized 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.”
The National Black Justice Coalition went even further, calling on Netflix to pull the special. Meanwhile, at least two notable current or former trans employees of the streamer—Dear White People writer Jaclyn Moore, and Terra Field, a senior software engineer for the company—expressed their own unhappiness with the decision to platform Chappelle’s views on social media.
Moore said she won’t work with Netflix again going forward, while Field laid out the argument that Chappelle’s rhetoric—including his frequent assertions that trans activism comes at the cost of Black people and other marginalized groups in American society—only stokes the violence that is so frequently targeted at trans people, and especially trans people of color.
Per Variety, Netflix has declined to comment on GLAAD’s statement, or any other of the protests against Chappelle’s special so far.