Every now and then an essay will seem insufficient on some level. It’s saying something intelligent but what? That Dave Chappelle is rich? That’s it? All I know is that this New Yorker piece about the discordant reaction to Dave Chappelle‘s The Closer, written by Jelani Cobb and dated 10.24.21, is lacking on some level. The phrasing needs to be blunter, cruder, more declarative.
Excerpt: “The Closer marks a new iteration of the ongoing debate about cancel culture, but not necessarily for the reasons that Chappelle intended.
“In 2005, it meant something for a Black man to reject an enormous pile of money in the name of integrity. The past two weeks reiterated a contrasting point: that Black men, too, can be invested in the prerogatives that wealth purchases. Earlier this year, Netflix removed old episodes of Chappelle’s Show from the platform at the comedian’s request, forgoing the revenue it would have reaped, after he called the contract that allowed Comedy Central to profit from the show more than a decade and a half after its release exploitative. Sarandos has dismissed requests from trans employees that The Closer be removed.
“The most reactionary and dangerous parts of our current politics and culture are driven by powerful people who claim to be the victims of groups that are far more vulnerable than they are. The irony is that these dynamics are increasingly present in matters of racism.
“Days after The Closer aired, Chappelle performed at a sold-out event at the Hollywood Bowl, before an audience that included Nas, Lizzo, Stevie Wonder, Brad Pitt and Tiffany Haddish. He remains powerful and influential, despite the protests from a comparatively small community of activists and their supporters. The turbulence around The Closer will, in all likelihood, amount to just another speed bump in Chappelle’s path. In gliding through this situation, he has emphasized a fact about power that was never particularly noteworthy. Because the one thing that has not been cancelled is the check.”