Words have the power to hurt people through hate speech but for comedian Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix special, this isn’t the case.
Chappelle’s comedy special “Sticks and Stones” began streaming Aug. 26 and it’s hilarious. Chappelle shares his views on current controversial topics — including LGBTQ rights, the #MeToo movement and Michael Jackson’s sexual assault allegations — without holding back.
The whole comedy special seems to be based on Chappelle’s belief that words from another person can only hurt if you let them. It’s because of this belief that both Netflix and the comedian are on the receiving end of backlash in a political climate where words have an enormous amount of weight.
The Netflix special was mentioned in countless tweets and online articles condemning the comedian.
“Who would have thought that transphobic jokes would be the hill that such a smart talented comedian needs to die on?” Things Imagined (@Taylor_Husking) tweeted. Forbes also uploaded an article by Sarah Aswell titled, “Instead Of Dave Chappelle’s New Comedy Special, Watch ‘They Ready.’”
Since the streaming platform released the special, there have been a lot of viewers who are upset at what Chappelle said in his routine. Two people who spoke out against Chappelle are Wade Robson and James Safechuck, who both claim to have been molested by Jackson when they were children. They spoke to TMZ about their frustration with Chappelle’s comedy.
“I just want to reach out to other survivors and let them know that we can’t let this type of behavior silence us,” Safechuck told TMZ.
Everyone has an opinion and people don’t always share the same views, which isn’t something to be upset about. People need to be less sensitive to opinions. Chappelle isn’t always pushing for social change and that doesn’t make him a bad guy.
During his special, Chappelle talks about a lot of social issues that he feels would be funny to interpret. He jokes about Louis C.K., who was accused of sexual misconduct in 2015. In the bit, Chappelle defends C.K. but when speaking about the #MeToo issue he said, “I told you that you were right.”
There’s a line somewhere between hate speech and opinion that has to be drawn. Chappelle has been able to stay on the opinion side of issues rather than the damaging hate speech side. When speaking about the sexual abuse allegations against Michael Jackson, Chappelle prefaced his bit and said, “I know I’m not supposed to say this. … But I don’t believe these.”
Even when speaking about the LGBTQ community, Chappelle makes it clear people belonging to the community deserve to be treated equally. He mentions his mutual love with the community and even explains to the audience that each letter within “LGBTQ” is it’s own movement. He joked about certain struggles within the LGBTQ community, and that joke wasn’t received well.
If someone is aggravated by what he says in his specials, then my advice to them is to stop watching his specials. There’s no need to try and “cancel” Chappelle. Cancel culture is something that should be reserved for hate speech.
Cancel culture has still made it’s way into comedy. Kevin Hart is a comedian who crossed the line into hate speech with homophobic tweets from 2011. One of the tweets read, “Yo if my son comes home & try’s 2 play with my daughters doll house I’m going 2 break it over his head & say n my voice ‘stop that’s gay.’”
Two important elements in Hart’s tweets draw the line between opinion and hate speech. The first is the act of violence Hart describes by smashing the dollhouse on his son’s head. The second is the homophobic statement he made by saying “stop that’s gay,” as if being gay is bad.
Chappelle’s comedy doesn’t shame or hate on minority groups. There’s never a mention of hurting another person because of their sexuality. Most of his comedy creates complex situations with fictional characters he impersonates. He plays into stereotypes that already exist, and he often praises those qualities.
Chappelle has the ability to entertain audiences with his opinion on social matters. He isn’t pushing his agenda or hating on communities. If you don’t like his social commentaries, then don’t watch his Netflix specials.