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Culture

Dave Chappelle's new Netflix special is an hour-long rant on LGBTQ culture that falls short

Dave Chappelle's new Netflix special is an hour-long rant on LGBTQ culture that falls short

Dave Chappelle

Dave Chappelle's six-show run for Netflix has mirrored a tumultuous period in American history. Over the last four years, Chappelle's specials have covered the Trump presidency, social unrest following the murder of George Floyd and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wedged between the specials, in 2020, Chappelle delivered a solemn commentary on the death of Floyd entitled "8:46."

Throughout his Netflix run, Chappelle has unapologetically tackled third-rail topics such as cancel culture, sexual abuse in Hollywood, race relations, the opiate epidemic among "poor whites" and LGBTQ issues.

And he's often done it with brilliant humor and grace. This time? Not so much.



This string of specials has come during an uncertain time for comedy when social media and political correctness have had a chilling effect on what a comedian can say. Or, at least what some comedians say they are allowed to say. One of the main goals of comedy is to figure out where the line of appropriateness is at a given time and to prove it by leaping over it.

Comedians deserve a lot of leeway for what they say because their job—when done correctly—is essentially jumping off a cliff to give the rest of us a better understanding of the current state of humanity.

Chappelle's Netflix specials have been refreshing because they've pushed the cultural envelope at a time when social media backlashes can ruin a career.

In 2017's "Equanimity," the comic begins by saying that he doesn't, "as a policy," feel bad about anything he says onstage. He later expounds on his point, saying:

Everybody gets mad because I say these jokes. But you have to understand this is the best time to say them. Now more than ever, I know there's some comedians in the back—motherfuckers, you have a responsibility to speak recklessly, otherwise my kids might not know what reckless talk sounds like. The joys of being wrong. I didn't come here to be right, I just came here to fuck around.

This week, Netflix released Chappelle's final show in the series, "The Closer," which promised to tie a bow around the entire project. The promise was enticing.

"I need you guys to know something, and I'm gonna tell you the truth, and don't get freaked out: This is going to be my last special for a minute," he said, later explaining that "The Closer" will complete his "body of work" for Netflix.

One brilliant riff about rapper DaBaby early in the show highlighted America's lopsided view of race relations and LGBTQ rights. But it also kicked off a recurring theme that would haunt the rest of the performance: the idea that the Black and LGBTQ communities are pitted against one another in the fight for social justice.

Ten minutes into the show he began an hour-long rant about gender where he hit back at critics who've called him transphobic.

"Any of you who have ever watched me know that I have never had a problem with transgender people. If you listen to what I'm saying, clearly, my problem has always been with white people," he maintains.

This would make sense if all trans people are white. But that's far from true. In fairness, earlier in the special, Chappelle does make a joke about the differences he sees between white and Black gay people when it comes to their experiences with the police. However, a bit about gender wasn't on solid ground:

"Gender is a fact," he reasons. "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. Now, I am not saying that to say trans women aren't women, I am just saying that those pussies that they got … you know what I mean? I'm not saying it's not pussy, but it's Beyond Pussy or Impossible Pussy. It tastes like pussy, but that's not quite what it is, is it? That's not blood. That's beet juice."

Dave Chappelle on Transgender (The Closer)www.youtube.com

Chappelle is wrong here, too. Gender and sex are two different things. Sex, according to the World Health Organization, refers to "the different biological and physiological characteristics of females, males and intersex persons"; whereas, gender is "the socially constructed characteristics of women and men—this includes norms, behaviors and roles."

Over the next half hour or so he discusses hitting a lesbian woman in the breasts, confronting a trans woman who was bothered by his work and the "frumpy dykes" of the #MeToo movement.

In the end, he tries to claim a moral high ground and fly above the fracas he created by recalling a night he let an inexperienced trans woman, Daphne Dorman, open for him at a show in San Francisco.

After the show, they discussed his views on transgendered people.

"She said, 'I don't need you to understand me.' She said, 'I just need you to believe that I'm having a human experience,'" Chappelle said.

"I said, 'I believe you, bitch.' Because she didn't say anything about pronouns. She didn't say anything about me being in trouble. She said, 'Just believe that I'm a person and I'm going through it,'" he continued.



Later, Dorman died by suicide. Chappelle doesn't examine why she would have taken her own life. Or contemplate the fact that trans people are ten times more likely to attempt suicide than those who are not.

Instead, he tries to smooth things over by saying we all need to have empathy for one another and that means that LGBTQ people should take it easy on comedians such as himself and Kevin Hart who've been chastised for anti-LGBTQ jokes.

"Empathy is not gay. It is not Black. Empathy is bisexual. It must go both ways," he said. "Will you please stop punching down on me, people?"

Yes, multimillionaire Kevin Hart may not have been able to host the Oscars for some homophobic jokes he made a decade ago. But that doesn't equate to the type of discrimination that pushes many people like Dorman to die by suicide.

Chappelle is one of the rare comics who's talented and honest enough to help us make sense of one of the most divisive eras in American history. Unfortunately, "The Closer" shies away from the job. Instead, we are treated to a man who professes not to care about his critics, going the extra mile to provide us with a muddled, sorry-not-sorry explanation for his jokes that fails to convince.

A comedy club is not a court of law and comedians should be able to win on an emotional appeal instead of making an intellectual argument. But Chapelle's most recent special plays out more like an act of stubborn defiance than an honest assessment of gender in the United States.

Pedro Pascal and Bowen Yang can't keep a straight face as Ego Nwodim tries to cut her steak.

Most episodes of “Saturday Night Live” are scheduled so the funnier bits go first and the riskier, oddball sketches appear towards the end, in case they have to be cut for time. But on the February 4 episode featuring host Pedro Pascal (“The Mandalorian,” “The Last of Us”), the final sketch, “Lisa from Temecula,” was probably the most memorable of the night.

That’s high praise because it was a strong episode, with a funny “Last of Us” parody featuring the Super Mario Brothers and a sketch where Pascal played a protective mother.

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Kelly Clarkson and Pink's gorgeous unplugged 'What About Us?' duet came with a timely​ message

"We're not listening to each other right now. And it's so loud, and so gross, and so angry…"

Pink and Kelly Clarkson teamed up for a sweet acoustic version of "What About Us?"

Pink and Kelly Clarkson are both known for having powerhouse voices that can belt at incredible ranges but also soften for a sweet ballad. Put the two of them together, and…well, dang.

On Feb 6, Clarkson featured Pink on her daytime talk show, in which she often sings with musical guests. The two superstars sang several acoustic duets with pitch-perfect harmonies, prompting fans of both artists to clamor for a collaborative album.

One song they sang together was Pink's "What About Us?" Pink previously described the song to The Sun in 2017: "The world in general is a really scary place full of beautiful people. Humans are resilient and there's a lot of wonderful—like I said in the song—'billions of beautiful hearts' and there are bad eggs in every group. And they make it really hard for the rest of us."

In the intro to their duet, Clarkson asked Pink about the impetus behind her writing the song.

"We're not listening to each other right now. And it's so loud, and so gross, and so angry and people are being forgotten," Pink shared. "People are being counted out and their rights are being trampled on just because a group of people doesn't believe in them."

"Like, I don't understand how so many people in this world are discounted because one group of people decided they don't like that," she continued. "And I won't—I won't have it. One of the most beautiful things that my dad taught me was that my voice matters and I can make a difference, and I will."

The lyrics of the song seem to address the political leaders and decision-makers who hold people's lives in their hands as they pull the levers of power. It's a beautiful song with an important message wrapped up in gorgeous two-part harmony.

Enjoy:

Pop Culture

The far-right is calling this viral Grammy performance 'Satanic.' Don't fall for it.

Sam Smith and Kim Petras' performance of "Unholy" left some calling it a satanic ritual.

K.G/Youtube

Sam Smith and Kim Petras performing "Unholy" at the Grammy Awards.

Depending on which corners of social media you call home, few happenings from the 2023 Grammy awards were as divisive as Sam Smith and Kim Petras’ performance of the song “Unholy.” Was it a historic moment of inclusion or a historic display of a Satanic ritual broadcast to the world?

On the one hand, the pair made music history. After winning the Grammy Award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, Smith became the first non-binary artist to win the category, along with Petra who became the first trans woman to win the category.

However, not everyone was a fan of their live hell-themed performance, featuring Smith clad in red leather and sporting a top hat with devil horns and Petras dancing in a cage surrounded by dominatrixes.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz took to Twitter to call the act “evil,” and his fury was quickly echoed by other conservative influencers who declared it an example of mainstream devil worship.

“Don’t fight the culture wars, they say. Meanwhile demons are teaching your kids to worship Satan. I could throw up.” wrote conservative political commentator Liz Wheeler.

However, it doesn’t take a lot of research to find out what the artist’s original intentions were behind the song.

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Keanu Reeves shocks a small-town pub by stopping in for a pint and taking photos with the staff

“So today we had a surprise visitor for lunch. What a lovely man he was, too."

Keanu Reeves in São Paulo, Brazil, 2019.

Keanu Reeves has a reputation as one of Hollywood’s nicest celebrities. Recently, he cheered up an 80-year-old fan who had a crush on him by calling her on the phone. He’s also bought an ice cream cone for a fan to give an autograph on the receipt and crashed a wedding to take photos with the bride and groom.

He’s also an incredible humanitarian who gave up a big chunk of his money from "The Matrix" to a cancer charity.

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"It's a me."

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And now, thanks to one epic “Saturday Night Live” skit, fans are clamoring to see Pascal take on a new role—a brooding, hardened, princess smuggling Mario.

The faux trailer imagines the video game Mario Kart as a quintessential HBO drama. Mario (Pascal) has to use his driving skills to get Princess Peach (played by Chloe Fineman) through an apocalyptic Mushroom Kingdom.
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Philadelphia Eagles player is bringing his pregnant wife’s OBGYN to the Super Bowl, just in case

Kylie McDevitt's OBGYN is packing a bag to join the NFL star's wife, just in case baby Kelce decides to see the game too.

Philadelphia Eagles player is bringing his pregnant wife's OBGYN to the Super Bowl

Having a baby is an intimate, vulnerable experience, so people get pretty attached to their healthcare providers. I've met women who have planned an induction to have their baby with their preferred doctor and not whoever would be on call if they went into labor naturally. So it may not be a surprise to birthing people that Kylie McDevitt, Philadelphia Eagles player, Jason Kelce's wife, isn't taking any chances when she travels to Arizona for the Super Bowl.

Kelce made headlines with his brother Travis recently when it was revealed that the Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs would be facing off for the Super Bowl, making the pair the first brothers to compete against each other for a ring. It seems that McDevitt didn't want to miss the history-making moment, even though she'll be two weeks shy of the standard 40 weeks of pregnancy.

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