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    Here Are The Controversial Issues Dave Chappelle Talks About In His New Special

    Chappelle goes out with a bang.

    Over the last five years, Dave Chappelle has delivered five Netflix specials that have influenced the culture in every way possible.

    Dave Chappelle welcomes a crowd of guests
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    The five specials were all shot in different locations — "Deep in the Heart of Texas," "The Age of Spin," "Equanimity," "The Bird Revelation," and "Sticks and Stones" — and all carried Chappelle's signature style of honesty and comedy. The series of specials earned Chappelle three straight Grammy wins for Best Comedy Album.

    Aside from the Netflix specials, Chappelle has been pretty busy. The legendary comedian ran socially distanced comedy shows in cornfields last year to help fuel his town's economy amidst the pandemic-caused recession.

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    The most famous of these cornfield shows is the 8:46 performance, which highlighted the turmoil that resulted from the public execution of George Floyd. The special was a deliverance of passion, agony, and rage that resonated with people across the globe. Now, he's delivered his latest special The Closer. 

    As a bi-sexual black male, it's easy to discern how many of the topics in The Closer straddled the line of comfort and controversy. This is no surprise though. Chappelle's dangerous style of comedy has always caused an uproar within several communities, even his own.

    His jokes from the special have been reviewed with harsh criticism. Eric Deggans of NPR writes that, "the message Chappelle has for those who have criticized him about transphobic, homophobic or any other phobic jokes seems to be: Race trumps all." Deggans claims that Chappelle treats the Black experience as the end-all of suffering, and often brushes the suffering of others to the side.

    In the special, Chappelle says, "gender is a fact" and that "every human being on Earth had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth." His comments have garnered him backlash. Both GLAAD and The National Black Justice Coalition’s executive director David Johns have rallied against the comedian.

    Dave Chappelle's brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized communities. Negative reviews and viewers loudly condemning his latest special is a message to the industry that audiences don't support platforming anti-LGBTQ diatribes. We agree. https://t.co/yOIyT54819

    Twitter: @glaad

    "It is deeply disappointing that Netflix allowed Dave Chappelle’s lazy and hostile transphobia and homophobia to air on its platform," David stated. He has also asked Netflix to remove The Closer. However, Netflix has chosen to keep the special on their platform, something I agree with.


    Chappelle has long touched on controversial topics. His classic sketch comedy show, Chappelle's Show, always found ways to touch on social issues involving race, sex, and politics.

    Dave Chappelle sitting on a bench in a promotional photograph
    Comedy Central / ©Comedy Central/Courtesy Everett Collect / Everett Collection

    The "Black Bush" skit is a standout piece of work because it highlights the disparity in politics and race in one stroke. The "Mad Real World" episode was also a precious piece of art. It showed how television framed people of color in certain environments by flipping the situation. Although his depictions of people, even his own race, have stirred up controversy — his comedic style hinges on highlighting difficult topics. 

    Chappelle's latest stand-up special for Netflix, The Closer, is the evolution of that style — the intangible ability to discern social issues and create vivid arguments in the form of brilliant comedy.

    Chappelle sings to a crowd
    Kevin Mazur / Getty Images for FF

    The Closer caps off one of the biggest comedy special runs of all time, and it's packed with jokes. The veteran tackles several social issues that are relevant now more than ever. And he caps the special off with a truly heartbreaking story.

    Comedy is hard to review, because context is important.

    There is so much more context that is needed to understand a joke than we allow in an article. Not to mention, comedy is not a realm of political correctness. Remember, this is a comedian who repeatedly played a crack head on Chappelle's Show. He also did a sketch highlighting what would happen if you gave Black people reparations, and showed them squandering their money. 

    Taking both of these examples out of context would appear that Chappelle is speaking down on the Black community. However, the importance of the topics (financial literacy, drug addiction) within the bigger context of the conversation was crucial. 

    The Closer finds Chappelle pushing the envelope once again, in any way he sees fit. Here are the ways that Dave Chappelle's latest special highlights controversial social issues in America today.

    🚨Spoilers Ahead🚨 for The Closer

    1. The Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

    A young Chappelle explains his point
    Donald Bowers / Getty Images

    Chappelle jokes about choosing the "third best option" when it comes to vaccines. "I'll have what the homeless people are having," he quips. The ongoing public debate between the three vaccines has definitely caused some interesting conversations around the nation. Despite the laughs, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has proven effective, and you can find more information here

    2. The Definition of a Feminist

    Chappelle standing onstage and looking dapper in a suit
    Paras Griffin / Getty Images for BET

    After joking about having a very negative view of feminism, Chappelle admits that the textbook definition is actually something he agrees with.

    Oxford defines feminism as, "the belief and aim that women should have the same rights and opportunities as men." Chappelle can stand behind that. However, his jokes about being “Team TERF!” (the acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist) in relation to J.K. Rowling's horrendous comments on gender make it hard for many feminists to take his support seriously. Chappelle co-signing on her comments not only further provokes the issue, but is hurtful to some trans people that counted themselves among his fans.

    3. The Intersection of Race & LGBTQ

    Chappelle hits the stage during a Netflix stand up show
    Lester Cohen / WireImage / Getty Images

    Chappelle tells a potent story in relation to a specific disparity in America. The comedian tells the audience about a time he got into an altercation with a large gay man, and how the situation almost escalated to a physical fight. However, the man ended up calling the police on Chappelle. "Gay people are minorities until they need to be white again," he jokes. This is a jab at white privilege. 

    This joke has created quite a big conversation about members of the LGBTQ community that are not white males, much like myself. What this joke really highlighted for me, is the amount of violence that is perpetrated against Black trans and queer folk. If you are not only Black, but you are also queer, you face more danger.

    4. What to Do With DaBaby

    DaBaby performs on stage
    Noel Vasquez / Getty Images for Hennessey

    By now, everyone has read about DaBaby's insensitive and ignorant comments regarding the LGBTQ community and those who have AIDS. His erroneous assumption that these groups belong in the same sentence is the seed of the issue, which grew into an enormous moment of cancellation. Chappelle proclaims that DaBaby's comments were way out of line before telling a story about the rapper's past.

    The comedian highlights that DaBaby shot and killed a man in a Walmart in North Carolina and had little to no consequence; however, his controversial comments nearly ended his career. "In our country, you can shoot and kill, but you better not hurt a gay person's feelings," he jokes. Chappelle touches on the court of public opinion. The public has held DaBaby accountable for his comments about the LQBTQ community — as they should. However, the shooting and killing went largely under the public's radar. 


    5. Cancel Culture

    6. Performance Activist

    A Me Too poster that shows five arms raised
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    Chappelle claims he supported the #MeToo movement in spirit; however, the performance activists really got under his skin. "I want everybody to wear crochet pussy hats so they know we're serious," he declares, in a mimicking tone. Chappelle also touches on how groups of women went to the Golden Globes wearing black as a sticking point.

    He then pivots and hits back at the actors who have given him grief for his jokes about the #MeToo movement. Chappelle reminds the audience that he walked away from $50 million for his beliefs, while many performative activists in Hollywood won't even fire their agents for their causes. 

    7. Bathroom Laws in North Carolina

    a mens bathroom sign
    Catherine Mcqueen / Getty Images

    "No American should have to present a birth certificate to take a shit at a Walmart in Greensboro, North Carolina, where DaBaby shot and killed a motherfucker." Preach, Dave. Preach. 

    8. Getting COVID-19

    Chappelle at a Netflix event
    Photo By: Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection

    Chappelle contracted COVID-19, but luckily remained asymptomatic. "I'm the Magic Johnson of coronavirus," he proclaimed.

    There's a very big national debate about asymptomatic COVID-19 patients and the severity and strength of different strains. Without getting too preachy or political, Chappelle touches on vaccinations and contracting the virus in a way that is relatable. For more information on vaccines, head here

    9. The Intersection of Race and Feminism

    Women marching for equality
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    Chappelle discusses how Sojourner Truth had to fight to have a voice in the women's rights movement because she was Black. The majority of the women, who were white, instructed her to remain silent and docile in an effort to separate abolitionism from feminism. Truth's "Ain't I a Woman" speech was inspired by this struggle.

    10. The Use of Pronouns

    Pronouns written on wooden dice
    Jena Ardell / Getty Images

    The acclimation to using pronouns to properly classify ourselves has become a controversial topic in America. Chappelle acknowledges this with a joke where he claims that someone came up to him and said, "Careful, Dave, they after you," to which he responded, "One they, or many theys?" Chappelle recognizing that "they" does not have to be plural shows his acclimation to using pronouns properly, despite some of the other jokes from this special that have offended some people.

    11. Chappelle's Dear Friend Daphne

    Chappelle clasps his hands in thanks
    Jason Miller / Getty Images

    I heard Chappelle tell this same story when I saw him live in Las Vegas on 4th of July weekend. In short, Daphne was a trans woman who befriended Chappelle. She was a comedian who had a dark sense of humor and brought light and wisdom with her wherever she went. It sounds like she and Chappelle were cut from the same cloth. He calls her one of his people, and a true comedian in her soul.

    Tragically, Daphne died by suicide just weeks after she received a shoutout from Dave Chappelle in his 2019 Netflix special, Sticks and Stones. He reflects on his friendship with Daphne in a moving monologue and really brings to light the struggle of all humans, our learned responses from our environments, and the importance of mental health.

    Were there any social issues The Closer touched on that hit home for you? Let us know in the comments below.

    The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org. The Trevor Project, which provides help and suicide-prevention resources for LGBTQ youth, is 1-866-488-7386. You can also text TALK to 741741 for free, anonymous 24/7 crisis support in the US and UK from the Crisis Text Line.

    This post has been updated to meet BuzzFeed's editorial standards.