By Barry Hirshfeld
A prominent figure in the comedy community, Dave Chappelle ceaselessly entertains millions of people, while simultaneously aggravating thousands. Continuously testing societal limits with skits and anecdotes which may possibly be depicted as offensive, Chappelle consistently remains in a controversial spotlight in the media. His most recent Netflix comedy special: “The Closer” further pushes said boundaries, with contentious transphobic and homophobic humor.
The majority of Chappelle’s variety of “offensive” jokes during the special: compared the progress of the African-American and homosexual civil rights movements, emphasized the defnity of gender, and criticized the “softness” of modern society. Quickly denounced by advocacy groups such as GLAAD and the National Black Justice Coalition, many wonder whether he has crossed the line of comedic ignorance. Although a sector of Netflix employees protest Netflix’s decision to keep the special available, the company continues to support Chappelle and his “artistic freedom.”
At a recent set in Nashville, Chappelle ridiculed the controversies surrounding his special, and made it clear that he intends to screen his impending documentary despite the backlash from Netflix and film festivals. Waltzing around the line of media cancelation, he continues to support his actions and defines the societal purpose of a comedian.