Dave Chappelle: Civil rights group asks Netflix to remove special for ‘perpetuating violence’ against trans people

Comedian’s show, ‘The Closer’, has been widely criticised

Isobel Lewis
Thursday 07 October 2021 12:22
<p>Chappelle in ‘The Closer'</p>

Chappelle in ‘The Closer'

A civil rights advocacy organisation has called on Netflix to pull Dave Chappelle’s new comedy special from its website for its jokes mocking transgender people.

The Closer, which arrived on the platform on Tuesday (5 October), is Chappelle’s latest stand-up special as part of his multi-project deal with the streamer.

Following the show’s release, Chappelle was criticised for a vast number of comments he made within it, including saying that he was “team Terf” (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) and claiming that the LGBTQ+ community are trying to destroy the lives of celebrities such as JK Rowling by “cancelling” them.

In his two-star review in The Guardian, Brian Logan wrote that Chappelle’s jokes were often “plain weak”, adding: “The phobic jokes keep coming – and Chappelle’s efforts to ironise them, to dance around rather than wallow in the boorishness, are derisory.”

Vulture’s Craig Jenkins described Chappelle as having “the textbook edgelord ally’s arrogance”, adding: “It’s hard for people to trust that you respect the queer community when you announce that you’re ‘team Terf’, make a point to mix up the letters in ‘LGBTQ’ and pepper your work with the slurs your peers have largely hung up.”

In response, civil rights advocacy group the National Black Justice Coalition asked Netflix to remove the special from their catalogue.

“With 2021 on track to be the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the United States — the majority of whom are Black transgender people — Netflix should know better,” executive director David Johns said.

“Perpetuating transphobia perpetuates violence. Netflix should immediately pull The Closer from its platform and directly apologise to the transgender community.”

This was echoed by a number of social media users, who accused the streamer of profiting from transphobia.

“Netflix is actively endangering transgender people by releasing/promoting the new Dave Chappelle special,” one commenter wrote.

“My father has used Dave’s comments to mock and insult me and I can only imagine the power THIS special will give to transphobes @netflix please remove this from your platform.”

“I tried Chappelle yesterday in all innocence and lasted 10 minutes during which time he was racist, homophobic and transphobic,” another Twitter user said, adding: “@NetflixUK /@netflix sort yourselves out, it’s 2021.”

One tweet read: “@Netflix doesn’t care about its customers.  So, it’s time the customers stop caring about Netfix and leave. Do you want your money to go into making a show that is damaging to people?”

The Independent has contacted Netflix and Chappelle for comment.

Following the release of the special, Dear White People showrunner Jaclyn Moore said that she would not work with Netflix “as long as they continue to put out and profit from blatantly and dangerously transphobic content”.

Glaad also criticised the special, tweeting: “Chappelle’s brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalised 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.”