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Roxane Gay Nails Dave Chappelle in New York Times pt. 2

Mr. Chappelle spends much of “The Closer,” his latest comedy special for Netflix, cleverly deflecting criticism. The set is a 72-minute display of the comedian’s own brittleness. The self-proclaimed “GOAT” (greatest of all time) of stand-up delivers five or six lucid moments of brilliance, surrounded by a joyless tirade of incoherent and seething rage, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia.

If there is brilliance in “The Closer,” it’s that Mr. Chappelle makes obvious but elegant rhetorical moves that frame any objections to his work as unreasonable. He’s just being “brutally honest.” He’s just saying the quiet part out loud. He’s just stating “facts.” He’s just making us think. But when an entire comedy set is designed as a series of strategic moves to say whatever you want and insulate yourself from valid criticism, I’m not sure you’re really making comedy.

Throughout the special, Mr. Chappelle is singularly fixated on the L.G.B.T.Q. community, as he has been in recent years. He reaches for every low-hanging piece of fruit and munches on it gratuitously. Many of Mr. Chappelle’s rants are extraordinarily dated, the kind of comedy you might expect from a conservative boomer, agog at the idea of homosexuality. At times, his voice lowers to a hoarse whisper, preparing us for a grand stroke of wisdom — but it never comes. Every once in a while, he remarks that, oh, boy, he’s in trouble now, like a mischievous little boy who just can’t help himself.

Somewhere, buried in the nonsense, is an interesting and accurate observation about the white gay community conveniently being able to claim whiteness at will. There’s a compelling observation about the relatively significant progress the L.G.B.T.Q. community has made, while progress toward racial equity has been much slower. But in these formulations, there are no gay Black people. Mr. Chappelle pits people from different marginalized groups against one another, callously suggesting that trans people are performing the gender equivalent of blackface.

In the next breath, Mr. Chappelle says something about how a Black gay person would never exhibit the behaviors to which he objects, an assertion many would dispute. The poet Saeed Jones, for example, wrote in GQ that watching “The Closer” felt like a betrayal: “I felt like I’d just been stabbed by someone I once admired and now he was demanding that I stop bleeding.”

Later in the show, Mr. Chappelle offers rambling thoughts on feminism using a Webster’s Dictionary definition, further exemplifying how limited his reading is. He makes a tired, tired joke about how he thought “feminist” meant “frumpy dyke” — and hey, I get it. If I were on his radar, he would consider me a frumpy dyke, or worse. (Some may consider that estimation accurate. Fortunately my wife doesn’t.) Then in another of those rare moments of lucidity, Mr. Chappelle talks about mainstream feminism’s historical racism. Just when you’re thinking he is going to right the ship, he starts ranting incoherently about #MeToo. I couldn’t tell you what his point was there.

This is a faded simulacrum of the once-great comedian, who now uses his significant platform to air grievances against the great many people he holds in contempt, while deftly avoiding any accountability. If we don’t like his routine, the message is, we are the problem, not him.

by Anonymousreply 7October 15, 2021 12:32 PM

lmao, he isn't a misogynist homophobe bigot or whatever but he did spend an exhausting amount of time talking about irrelevant trannies. this roxanne gay sounds as exhausting as anyone participating in this proverbial dick measuring contest over the trannies.

by Anonymousreply 1October 15, 2021 5:31 AM

I remember DL hates Roxanne Gay. I forget why.

by Anonymousreply 2October 15, 2021 5:34 AM

blah blah blah BUZZWORD blah blah blah BUZZWORD blah blah BUZZWORD....

by Anonymousreply 3October 15, 2021 5:40 AM

OP, why have you posted this article into three separate threads, instead of in one thread?

by Anonymousreply 4October 15, 2021 5:46 AM

[quote] callously suggesting that trans people are performing the gender equivalent of blackface.

I mean, he wasn’t being callous, he just didn’t make the best analogy. What drag queens do is analogous to blackface. What trans people do is equivalent to Rachel Dolezal.

Also, Roxane Gay has zero sense of humor and apparently doesn’t understand how comedy works.

by Anonymousreply 5October 15, 2021 5:47 AM

Someone on DL once said that stand up comedians tend to be toxic fucked up people. I watched YT videos of Norm McDonald with his stand up buddies and they seemed to be very angry and prejudiced against anyone who isn't a white straight guy.

by Anonymousreply 6October 15, 2021 5:53 AM

It's interesting R6, because you'd think they would be happy at providing joy to people, but instead it seems like the reason they do what they do is really more about them getting adoration than spreading happiness.

by Anonymousreply 7October 15, 2021 12:32 PM
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