Dave Chappelle Gets Transphobic On Netflix in The Dreamer

Dave Chappelle in Dave Chappelle: The Dreamer at the Lincoln Theatre in Washington DC. Photo credit: Mathieu Bitton/Netflix © 2024

Dave Chappelle got both transphobic and antisemitic in The Closer in 2021 but the transphobia continues on Netflix with The Dreamer. The Lincoln Theatre in Washington, DC should be ashamed of playing host to transphobia. As should Netflix but we all know that Ted Sarandos is seemingly fine with giving his star comedian a free pass.

There is no place for hate speech in comedy. Not now. Not ever. Netflix, enough is enough. Please do something about this toxic relationship. I did not watch the special nor do I have any intentions to do so. Chappelle’s continued mocking down of trans people is crossing a line that should not be crossed. These specials have harmful consequences. I’ll get into it later but it is making me rethink–again–my own relationship with Netflix. At what point will filmmakers start rethinking their relationship with Netflix? What does an award-winning filmmaker like Noah Baumbach think? Are comedians like Iliza Shlesinger even saying anything about sharing a home with such a hateful man? Will they rethink their Netflix contracts?

He visited Jim Carrey on the set of Man on the Moon. However, the actor was disappointed that Carrey was in method as Andy Kaufman. This led Chappelle to quip, “That’s how trans people make me feel.”

You bet he addressed the anti-trans material…by saying he would go after handicapped people and that he loves “punching down.” The man has no heart.

“If you guys came here to this show tonight thinking that I’m going to make fun of those people again, you’ve come to the wrong show. I’m not fucking with those people anymore. It wasn’t worth the trouble. I ain’t saying shit about them. Maybe three or four times tonight, but that’s it. I’m tired of talking about them. And you want to know why I’m tired of talking about them? Because these people acted like I needed them to be funny. Well, that’s ridiculous. I don’t need you. I got a whole new angle coming. You guys will never see this shit coming. I ain’t doing trans jokes no more.”

Check Variety for the rest of the recap because Chappelle uses language that I will not reprint on these pages.

The fact that Morgan Freeman also goes along for the ride is what makes this more depressing. Don’t think I’m ignoring the fact that John Mulaney is seemingly okay with Chappelle’s hate speech by having him open up at comedy shows. I’m not. I’m most definitely not.

Here’s my message for Netflix and specifically Ted Sarandos: I’m done with Netflix being okay with Chappelle’s hate speech. Hate speech of all forms have to have consequences. But in continuing to give Chappelle a platform, what Netflix is saying is that they are fine with his hate. They are continuing to condone his hate on their platform. How many times do I have to continue to write about this Dave Chappelle?

I want to say something to Ted. Unfortunately, what I wrote in 2021 and 2022 does not appear to be enough. I’ve written an open letter, another piece after Ted doubled down, Ted defending transphobia in comedy and then wanting comedians to cross the line. Hate speech does more than cross a line. It can cause serious harm especially for the marginalized community that a comedian is punching down. Ted might not remember how we got into a conversation about this in March 2022–one that was making my blood boil so I walked away. Maybe we need to continue this conversation? I don’t know. I’m completely exhausted right now. It’s already bad enough that I have to defend my existence as  Jew on a daily basis.

What I do know is this: the frequent condoning of Chappelle’s hate is what is making me rethink my relationship with Netflix. It is making me reconsider if continue to post what is coming and leaving the platform. It’s a valuable service to readers and it would mean losing traffic. But also, it is making me reconsider covering anything on Netflix ever again. I never went the full boycott Netflix that other people did as a result of the continued allowing of hate in 2021 but I’m seriously reconsidering. I’m sorry to any filmmakers and awards contenders that might lose coverage or award votes from me going forward but as a transgender American, I need to draw the line somewhere.

Transphobic hate speech needs to have consequences but Netflix is condoning it by giving Dave Chappelle a free pass. Chappelle always crosses the line but it is time for Netflix to say that enough is enough. Stop giving hatred a home on the streaming service. If you don’t see me watching or covering Dan Levy’s Good Grief during the upcoming week, the newest Dave Chappelle special is why.

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.