Dave Chappelle using ‘cancel culture’ excuse to make bigoted statements

Comedians are not suffering but rather thriving off of controversy

Written By Jake Dabkowski, Editor Elect

Dave Chappelle is a comedian who I once looked up to and now cannot stand. His entire shtick has become incredibly one-note and painfully unfunny. If you haven’t been following his recent content, everything essentially boils down to him complaining about “cancel culture” and using this as a lens to say increasingly bigoted things.

The issue with Chappelle’s, and an increasing number of comedians’ cancel culture-based stand-up is that the so-called “cancel culture” that they complain about does not really exist (At least, not in the form they claim it to). A majority of comedians who have been “canceled” don’t actually receive a cancelation. Sure, it can seem like there’s always some new controversy, but that’s what it usually boils down to—controversy and nothing more. Very rarely do comedians actually lose their jobs, and, when they do, they are oftentimes able to reclaim that spotlight after a bit of time passes.

Even many comedians who definitely deserve to be “canceled” attempt comebacks. For example, Louis C.K. recently released a new stand-up special and even performed a show at the Pittsburgh Improv, despite him being accused of sexual misconduct by multiple female comedians.

There is an important distinction to be made between being “canceled” for saying something offensive and being “canceled” for sexual misconduct, but if C.K. is able to relaunch his career despite his misconduct allegations, then I don’t think that it’d be very difficult to come back after saying something offensive.

Chappelle is clearly aware of this, joking in his new special that he loves being canceled as it’s given him a larger following and made him millions of dollars. He is clearly well-aware that cancel culture is not actually a problem.

Netflix has stood by him, arguing that he deserves the freedom to speak his mind, which would be fine if it were genuine. After Chappelle’s most recent special aired, Netflix suspended one transgender employee and two other employees for voicing frustrations to executives.

Not only that, but when questioned on Chappelle’s latest special, Netflix’s CEO pointed to a number of inclusive productions, both prior and forthcoming, arguing that Netflix is presenting both sides. This is something that, if you stop and think about, is a pretty backwards way of looking at things. You can’t have a portion of your brand being about how inclusive you are and another portion of your brand being about how people have a right to be bigoted. It’s disingenuous. The CEO followed this up by pointing out how Chappelle’s previous special was incredibly successful for Netflix.

For Chappelle and Netflix, that’s what it’s really all about. The new special garners them attention and, ultimately, profit, but the real people suffering are the people being demeaned by Chappelle. It’s not about cancel culture, it’s about the influence that comedy can have. Many people view issues like this as “just jokes” or “just satire,” but that’s not really the stopping point. Comedy can have a deeper effect on people, and Chappelle’s words have power and weight beyond just making people laugh.