Yuval David
Yuval David

Marginalizing the Marginalized in ‘The Closer’

Dave Chappelle, a comedian I have admired for many years, tested comedy with his new Netflix special, “The Closer.”  When I watch Dave Chappelle, I am prepared to laugh.  But his latest special did not make me laugh—it made me silently cringe.

I tried to laugh, I wanted to laugh, I looked to Dave to make me laugh. But, throughout his 72 combative and callous minutes, all I could think was, “hmmm, that was not funny.”

Chappelle makes coarse statements, coming across as an embittered wealthy man, with glaring attempts to create controversy for the sake of doing so.

Many comedians capitalize on controversy to equalize—laugh with people instead of at people. Chappelle’s comments create animosity towards those who are ‘othered. Disappointingly, he gains the laughter of his live-audience in this special—which means this audience thinks it is right to mock marginalized people.

Chappelle makes comments about marginalized and victimized groups that come across as nothing short of ignorant and hate-filled. He stooped to cater to the audiences who seek this type of content, even though he already has gained a large following from those who are culturally accepting. He clearly wanted to connect to those who seek derogatory humor. Unfortunately, he succeeded.

His humor no longer feels funny, goofy, and quizzical, as it used to. It now feels frustrated, sour, and angry. It’s a horrible change.

What does he actually say? Chappelle excessively mocks lesbian, trans, and gay people. He compares being ill with COVID-19 to black people assaulting Asians in bigoted attacks. He empowers the false narrative of the Jewish people—claiming Jews are a foreign group of occupiers. He continues the antisemitic tropes of the world-dominating Jews being a colonialist empire of ‘others’ who do not belong.  He calls us “Space Jews.” He even repeats this phrase twice to ensure it hits home.

IN MY MOVIE IDEA, WE FIND OUT THAT THESE ALIENS ARE ORIGINALLY FROM EARTH — THAT THEYRE FROM AN ANCIENT CIVILIZATION THAT ACHIEVED INTERSTELLAR TRAVEL AND LEFT THE EARTH THOUSANDS OF YEARS AGO. SOME OTHER PLANET THEY GO TO, AND THINGS GO TERRIBLE FOR THEM ON THE OTHER PLANET, SO THEY COME BACK TO EARTH, [AND] DECIDE THAT THEY WANT TO CLAIM THE EARTH FOR THEIR VERY OWN. ITS A PRETTY GOOD PLOTLINE, HUH? I CALL IT SPACE JEWS.

In this era of celebrity worship, Chappelle makes blanket statements on world situations, and perpetuates false narratives, assaulting already marginalized people. His anti-Semitic comments paint Jews as a conquering nation, when in fact Jews have been a conquered nation of refugees, desperately trying to maintain a homeland for thousands of years, continuously kicked out of their land, and other lands—and facing attacks not only in Europe and the Arab world, but in fact globally.

Maybe he was trying to offer contradictions, daring people to take equal offense, and compare the suffering of all people without a hierarchy. Is he attempting to make a political argument by going after all victimized and marginalized groups to see if the audience is insulted by one comment as opposed to all?  Is he trying to push all of our buttons to invite us to reflect on which derogatory comment actually provokes us enough to be angry and offended?

Whatever his goal was, this isn’t funny.  Neither is it equalizing. He just comes off as angry, sad, and a tired mess.  And Netflix still gave him a multi-million dollar deal.

At first criticism of this special, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos said that “content on screen doesn’t directly translate to real-world harm.” That couldn’t be further from the truth.  Entertainment and media absolutely affects public opinion and personal beliefs. Netflix holds great power. So, while I respect freedom of speech, I also believe in freedom of criticism.

I am not a supporter of ‘cancel-culture.’ I do not believe in ‘cancelling’ someone merely because they do not agree with me or with liberal, progressive causes. What I do believe in is mutual respect, a desire for equal representation, acknowledgment of facts, and in entertainers being…well…entertaining.  As much as I have enjoyed him in the past, Dave Chappelle has veered far off the road into a ditch where I don’t care to join him.

Get it together, Dave. I eagerly await your return to true comedy. In the meantime, I will find something better to watch on Netflix.

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About the Author
Yuval David is an innovative actor, host, and filmmaker with a creative mantra to entertain, uplift, and inspire.
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