Dave Chappelle blames ‘corporate interest’ for trans fallout

Dave Chappelle looks on during UFC 264: Poirier v McGregor 3 at T-Mobile Arena on July 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Dave Chappelle looks on during UFC 264: Poirier v McGregor 3 at T-Mobile Arena on July 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) Photo credit Getty Images

In an Instagram video posted this week, comedian Dave Chappelle blamed the media and corporate interest for his recent issues with the transgender community.

Chappelle has received criticism for comments he made about the transgender and LGBTQ community in “The Closer,” his recent Netflix comedy special. Those comments were in response to previous criticism from the transgender community about Chappelle’s jokes.

During “The Closer,” Chappelle said that he thinks “gender is fact,” identified himself as a “TERF” or trans-exclusionary radical feminist and expressed support for “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling, who has also been criticized by the transgender community.

Regarding his comments, GLAAD said “Dave Chappelle’s brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized 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. We agree.”

Responses to the special also included a Netflix employee walkout and confrontations between Chappelle fans and trans rights advocates, according to USA Today. B. Pagels-Minor, a pregnant former Netflix staffer who organized the walkout and has been fired told the outlet they are “tired as hell.”

However, Chappelle said in his Instagram post that the situation doesn’t boil down to “me versus that community.”

“I want everyone in this audience to know that even though the media frames this that it's me versus that community, that is not what it is,” Chappelle said in a video on his Instagram Monday. “Do not blame the LBGTQ (sic) community for any of this (expletive). This has nothing to do with them.
It's about corporate interest, and what I can say, and what I cannot say.”

A crowd cheered for him as he spoke from a stage.

“For the record, and I need you to know this, everyone I know from that community has been nothing but loving and supporting,” Chappelle continued. “So I don't know what all this nonsense is about.”

Chappelle claimed that the press said he refused to meet with transgender Netflix employees.

“That is not true,” he said. “If they would have invited me, I would have accepted it. Although I am confused about what we are speaking about. I said what I said, and I heard what you said – my God, how could I not?”

Chappelle then laid out the conditions under which he would be “willing to give” the transgender community an audience.

“First of all, you cannot come if you have not watched my special from beginning to end. You must come to a place of my choosing and a time of my choosing. And thirdly, you must admit that Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”

His third condition was a reference to a lesbian Australian comedian known for her Netflix comedy special “Nanette.” Netflix chief Ted Sarandos mentioned Gadsby as an example of the company’s diverse programming in a memo to staff, said USA Today.

Apart from his new comments about the transgender community, Chappelle also talked about how the controversy has impacted his upcoming untitled documentary in the Instagram video.

“Thank God for Ted Sarandos and Netflix, he’s the only one that didn’t cancel me yet,” Chappelle said.

“The greater point is, this is not to curb creative freedom, or to censor people,” Pagels-Minor said. “This is about widening the discussion to tell the complete story of other groups (who are) being unduly hurt by this type of content.”

According to USA Today, one of Sarandos' emails claimed content doesn't lead to real-world harm and he has since walked the comment back.

“The company was not taking to heart how hurtful the content was,” Pagels-Minor says.