Dave Chappelle's new stand-up comedy special The Closer is ranked as the number 3 overall program on Netflix's Top 10 chart right now, in spite of the controversy surrounding some of his new jokes. Chappelle has once again incurred backlash for making transphobic comments. Some are speculating that the controversy is helping to draw attention to his new special.
Chappelle just wrapped up his contract with Netflix for six stand-up comedy specials and jokes about the transgender community have been a through-line in many of them. He did not break that pattern this time around, commenting on issues of gender identity at times without a punchline. As before, his latest comments have been widely condemned by prominent members of the LGBTQ+ community, GLAAD and the National Black Justice Coalition, among others. However, Chappelle seemed to draw as big of a crowd as ever for his latest turn on the stage.
The most sensational and noteworthy quotes from Chappelle's new special boil down to "gender critical" talking points. After couching his rhetoric in jokes for the last several specials, this time Chappelle bluntly identified himself as a member of "team TERF" — meaning "team trans-exclusionary radical feminist." He refuted the existence of a gender identity separate from biological sex altogether, saying: "Gender is a fact. Every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth. That is a fact."
As in earlier specials, Chappelle's central point seemed to be to compare the civil rights struggles of the LGBTQ+ community to those of the Black American community. He seemed to imply that LGBTQ+ activists are too concerned with rhetoric and insults and not concerned enough with public policy and organizing meaningful protests.
"I don't hate gay people, I respect the s— of you. Not all of you," he said. "I'm not that fond of these newer gays — too sensitive, too brittle. I miss the old-school gays... the Stonewall gays. They didn't take s— from anybody."
In the days since its release, Chappelle's specials have gotten line-by-line rebuttals from activists, bloggers and commenters debating points like this. Many have also questioned why the comedian seems so fixated on transgender issues when he has so many other topics to tackle. On the other hand, some critics have urged each other to stop dissecting Chappelle's work in this way, feeling that it ultimately just helps to promote him.
That may well be the case judging by his placement on the Netflix charts. Chappelle's sixth and final Netflix comedy special, The Closer, is streaming now. Those looking for information on transgender issues or support from transgender peers can go to TransLifeLine.org or call 877-565-8860.