A recent Netflix special starring the comedian Dave Chappelle has sent the biggest names in the American corporate media into a fit of histrionic indignation. The evident reason for this frenzied backlash, which has taken on the tone of panic, is that the reign of “woke” orthodoxy may be under threat. With nothing more than a series of rather tame (if tawdry) jokes and undeniable factual observations, a black comedian has opened up a crack in the edifice of what has appeared until now to be an unstoppable movement: the “intersectional” LGBT juggernaut, or, as Chappelle flippantly calls it, “the alphabet people.”
Crude but true
To merit this outburst Chappelle merely had to cite facts of biology, while simultaneously defending J.K. Rowling, a very liberal and “gay-friendly” author who, nonetheless, has been ostracized by woke elites for having the temerity to denounce the intrusion into women’s bathrooms and changing rooms of men who “identify” as women.
In his comedy special, dubbed, “The Closer,” Chappelle notes with amazement that a figure as famous and influential as Rowling has been “canceled” by the woke mob, merely for noting that gender is an objective reality, rather than a social construct.
“They canceled J.K. Rowling — my God,” said Chappelle. “Effectually she said gender was a fact. The trans community got mad as s**t, they started calling her a TERF,” he added, explaining that “TERF” stands for “Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist,” a term of opprobrium invented by transgender activists.
“I’m team TERF,” said Chappelle. “I agree. I agree, man. 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.” The comedian also made an earthy and ironic comment on the unreality of “transgender” sexual organs.
Citing fundamental facts of biology is one of the greatest offenses that can be committed against LGBT ideology, but perhaps the most dangerous statement made by Chappelle was left almost completely unreported in the mainstream media, and that was his comparison of men dressed as women to white people who wear blackface in insulting parodies of black people.
Women “look at transgender women the way we blacks look at blackface,” Chappelle told his audience. “They go ‘oh, this (expletive) is doing an impression of me!’”
Mainstream media sources, including the New York Times, Esquire, Vanity Fair, the New York Daily News, Entertainment Tonight, and a host of other outlets, immediately launched a sustained campaign of unflattering headlines whose clear purpose was to intimidate Netflix into canceling Chappelle’s comedy special. The impression sought was that Chappelle and Netflix are under siege by an outraged public, and that they are in danger of being tar-brushed with the dread, career-killing epithet of “transphobic.” The media solemnly informed the public that Chappelle was using “hateful language” and that Netflix was suffering a “PR crisis,” facing an “internal uproar,” was caught up in an “ever-widening firestorm.”
In reality, the “firestorm” cited by the mainstream media was little more than a dramatic invention of the media, which has been frantically dishing out quotes from LGBT press releases and Twitter accounts and citing the case of a handful of “transgender” individuals within Netflix who had expressed outrage at the special. The rest of the material, per custom, was bland “woke” rhetoric framed as news commentary. Similar outbursts had worked to silence dissenters and damage their careers a thousand times in the past, and it appears that the media were counting on it to work again.
However, after two weeks of this barrage, Netflix’s executives appear to be unimpressed, and even contemptuously dismissive of a campaign that would have driven a corporate entity to its knees only a year ago.
Although Netflix has allowed employees to express their opposition to the Chappelle special, it has strongly rejected their arguments, particularly those that claim that “violence” will be done to “transgender people” as a result. To add insult to injury to LGBT wokeism, the company has suspended three activist employees who interrupted a meeting of Netflix directors to make a protest against the special, and fired another for leaking private information about it to the press. A threatened “walkout” of “transgenders” and their “allies” at the company scheduled for October 20 has also elicited little concern from Netflix.
Chappelle himself has mockingly dismissed the “firestorm,” telling an audience at a recent, well-attended event at the Hollywood Bowl, “If this is what being canceled is like, I love it,” and unleashing a string of expletives against Twitter, NBC News, ABC News, and “all these stupid (expletive) networks.”
“I’m not talking to them,” said Chappelle, “I’m talking to you. This is real life.”
The media frenzy has taken on a particular sense of urgency in this case for two obvious reasons. First, Dave Chappelle’s attacks on LGBT ideology have the potential to undermine the most important seam in the metal of the movement, and that is the “intersectional” joining of black civil rights and gender ideology.
This unnatural union has always been the weakest point in “intersectionality,” which is an attempt to fuse together various and disparate ideological causes within the broad spectrum of neo-Marxist identity politics. It may be understood more simply as an attempt by LGBT ideologues to co-opt racial minorities and their political movements. Comparing black people and other racial minorities whose skin color is a biologically-determined fact, with people who deny their own biology and insist that the rest of the world do so as well, is obviously insulting and demeaning to the former but politically beneficial to the latter. Chappelle appears to be alluding to this with his devastating “blackface” comparison, and his popularity and minority status simultaneously provide him with a degree of protection from intersectional LGBT activists who claim to be “allies” of black civil rights.
Without the false analogy between racial minorities and “sexual minorities,” LGBT would quickly lose the appearance of occupying a moral high ground. However, the movement has even more to lose if its corporate sponsors cut and run, and this is the second reason Chappelle’s Netflix special is so dangerous. Netflix is a massively-influential part of the broad corporate media coalition that has collectively imposed the “woke” orthodoxy of LGBT on the public for the last eight years, with show after show dramatizing the cause. If Netflix bails out, other corporate LGBT “allies” might follow and the movement might lose its grip on power. This fear is being openly expressed by the corporate media entities such as CNN.
“Is this an example of Netflix resisting so-called cancel culture?” asked CNN’s Brian Stelter to Puck founder Matthew Belloni in a recent interview. “Absolutely,” Belloni answered, noting that “a big, Hollywood, institutional entity” is “standing by Dave Chappelle, even amid outrage of its own employees.”
“There’s going to be a walk-out of employees at Netflix who are so upset by the hateful language in its special, yet Neflix has decided that it is in the best interest of its business model to have a free and open platform for this kind of comedy special,” added Belloni.
USA Today is worrying out loud that “Netflix’s support of Dave Chappelle is setting a dangerous precedent,” according to one recent headline. “Netflix purports to be a beacon for inclusion in front of and behind the camera. But growing controversy over Dave Chappelle’s latest standup special, ‘The Closer,’ proves it has much further to go,” stated the article, written by two USA Today reporters.
What adds to the force of Chappelle’s jokes is the simple fact that the absurdity of LGBT ideology remains deeply vulnerable to mockery. The earnest ridiculousness of homosexualism and transgenderism is ultimately powerless in the face of a comedic critique, even a rather unimaginative one by a vulgarian like Chappelle. That’s another reason to seek to shut the comedian up and punish his sponsors once and for all – if gender ideology can’t withstand even the recitation of biological facts, much less can it win in the venue of stand-up comedy.
Europeans also jumping ship
Added to the Chappelle bruhaha is the beginning of an international backlash, led by the French, against American wokery, a phenomenon now being noted by the American media. Although LGBT ideology has swept the globe largely because of a broad support for it by a coalition of Anglophone and continental European countries, the ever-extending extremes of wokeism are beginning to be seen as a purely American phenomenon, one that is fundamentally hostile to France’s still-strong tradition of secular liberalism.
“The logic of intersectionality fractures everything,” French President Emmanuel Macron told Elle magazine in June, adding, “I don’t agree with a fight that reduces everyone to their identity or their particularity.” His sentiments are increasingly being expressed in French media and in academia.
Last week, Macron’s education minister Jean-Michel Blanquer announced the creation of a new institute, the “Laboratory of the Republic,” to combat the influence of wokeism and other ideas seen as anti-French. “The Republic is completely contrary to wokeism,” Blanquer told Le Monde. “In the United States, this ideology provoked a reaction and led to the rise of Donald Trump . . . France and its youth have to escape that.”
“We need a diverse society where we respect each other and don’t define ourselves by how victimized we are or our supposed identity but simply as a citizen. That’s the beauty of the French Republican project,” said Blanquer.
Macron’s delegate minister for gender equality and diversity, Elisabeth Moreno, who is black, has also expressed her concern that “woke culture” is “something very dangerous, and we shouldn’t bring it to France.”
In these sentiments, France is famously joined by two dissenters within the European Union: Hungary and Poland, both of which have been rather steadfast in their resistance to anti-family ideologies. There are also signs that Britain is becoming fed up with American wokery as well: the Economist, a highly-respected publication that has long sided with LGBT causes, has broken with the American media and is openly defending Chappelle for his “gender realism.”
“Besides torching the pieties of the identitarian left, [Chappelle] has also shown how marginal it is,” write the editors. “His gender-realist views are far more in step with public opinion than his critics. And if the unpopularity of their views is rarely off-putting to the Twitterati, good luck to them taking on an African-American superstar.”
If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!