Controversial Yellow Springs Resident Dave Chappelle Gets Emmy Nominations for Netflix Special with Anti-Trans Jokes

"The Closer" was released on Netflix in October.

click to enlarge Dave Chapelle's Netflix special The Closer has nabbed two Emmy nominations. - Image: Netflix video still
Image: Netflix video still
Dave Chapelle's Netflix special The Closer has nabbed two Emmy nominations.

Comedian Dave Chappelle is being rewarded for his ongoing anti-trans sentiments with an Emmy nomination.

Chappelle's Netflix stand-up special The Closer, which was released in October and quickly came under fire for transphobic language, is nominated for two Emmy awards: Outstanding Variety Special (Pre-Recorded) and Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special. Chappelle's competition includes Adele: One Night Only and Norm Macdonald: Nothing Special. The Emmys released nominations for 2022 on July 12, and winners will be announced during an awards broadcast on Sept. 12.

Controversy surrounded Dave Chappelle's The Closer

Last fall, Chappelle was embroiled in a major controversy upon the Oct. 5 release of his his Netflix special The Closer, in which he intentionally misgendered a transgender friend who had died. Chappelle, who lives in Yellow Springs, also has defended Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling for her series of ongoing transphobic remarks and positions, declared himself "Team TERF" ("trans-exclusionary radical feminist," or, more simply, someone who supports women but not trans women) and compared trans women's genitalia to "Beyond" products – a meat substitute – implying that they are not "real" genitalia.

After The Closer was released, Netflix employees staged a walk-out to protest Chappelle's anti-trans jokes as well as his ongoing anti-cancel-culture comedy sets, Vox reported. Netflix recently laid off a large swath of employees, many of whom were LGBTQ+ and/or non-white or worked on shows that highlighted those traits. And in an update to its corporate culture memo in May, Netflix added a section defending controversial "artistic expression" like Chappelle's and outlined ways to protect privileged information around such content.
Chappelle has claimed to have never made explicit anti-trans jokes and that members of the LGBTQ+ community had "punched down" on "my people" like Kevin Hart, a Black comedian who has made homophobic jokes and tweets over the years.

Chappelle has long held that jokes about marginalized communities are fair game despite members of those communities repeatedly telling him about the harm he does

Dave Chappelle joked that his attacker in May was "a trans man"

On May 3, a man attacked Chappelle on stage during the Netflix Is a Joke comedy festival. In an interview with the New York Post, Chappelle's attacker Isaiah Lee said that he was moved to act due to the comedian's ongoing jokes about LGBTQ+ community members, sexual abuse and homelessness.

Immediately after the incident, Chappelle returned to the stage and told his audience that his attacker, "was a trans man" in a joking fashion, alluding to the ire the comedian has raised for his repeated anti-transgender jokes and bits. 

Dave Chappelle made LGBTQ+ jokes during a Columbus standup set with John Mulaney

Chappelle surprised comedy fans by showing up to John Mulaney's May 20 stand-up show in Columbus. But many attendees were frustrated when Chappelle reportedly continued his punches toward the LGBTQ+ community during his unscheduled set.

Chappelle performed for about 15 minutes before Mulaney took over, social media users said. During Chappelle's mini-set, the comedian reportedly talked about the man who had attacked him on stage on May 3 and made a joke about the man's weapon – which police had said was a gun that also had a knife blade. Chappelle claimed that it was "a gun that identifies as a knife."

The comedian's bit invoked a trope that largely is considered transphobic, as it makes light of people who declare or affirm a gender identity. People who are transgender have gender identities that are different from those they were born with. Chappelle's words also equated an inanimate object to living people who are routinely marginalized through laws and resources as well as physically and verbally attacked.
One attendee at the Columbus show told Buzzfeed News that Chappelle also made homophobic jokes about audience members. "He had a bit where he pulled out twin boys from the crowd and said they were jerking each other off and were gay with one another, which was weird," Madison McAlear told Buzzfeed.

Attendees posted that being confronted with Chappelle's hurtful jokes without notice was crushing, pointing out that Mulaney knew of Chappelle's maligned history with the LGBTQ+ community and welcomed him to perform anyway.

After Chappelle's set, Mulaney hugged his fellow comedian, seemingly condoning Chappelle's act. 

Netflix just dropped another Dave Chappelle special

Despite the fire that Chappelle constantly finds himself in, Netflix doesn't appear to be interested in parting ways with the comedian. On June 7, the streaming platform released What's in a Name, which features a 40-minute speech that Chappelle gave at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. in June. His alma mater intended to name a theatre after Chappelle, but with the anti-trans controversy, the comedian declined. Theatre is now called the Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression.

The Netflix special focuses on Chappelle's speech during the naming ceremony but also references a separate conversation he'd had with students who were unhappy with his anti-LGBTQ jokes and had protested against naming anything after him. Chappelle defended his right to say what he'd wanted as part of his art, largely disagreeing with the teenagers and dismissing their views and concerns for the transgender community.
"All the kids were screaming and yelling. I remember, I said to the kids, I go, 'Well, okay, well what do you guys think I did wrong?' And a line formed. These kids said everything about gender and this and that and the other, but they didn’t say anything about art," Chappelle said during his speech.

"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," Chappelle also said, referencing cisgender women while ignoring that trans women generally do not bear children but many trans men do have that capability.

In contrast to other Chappelle endeavors, Netflix released the special without fanfare.

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