Dave Chappelle hosts ‘SNL’ tonight. Here’s a timeline of the controversies surrounding his jokes about transgender people | CNN

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Tonight, Dave Chappelle will host “Saturday Night Live” for the third time, an appearance that sparks controversy even before he takes the stage.

The comedian has sparked growing anger in recent years for making jokes targeting transgender people, and the outcry grew louder last fall when Netflix released a Chappelle special, “The Closer,” in which he doubled down on his comments.

Netflix supported Chappelle, who went on a national tour after the special and largely ignored the controversy after addressing it in his act.

But his comments were criticized by fellow comedians, fans, trans advocates and some Netflix employees, with a Minnesota venue canceling a Chappelle show this year due to the controversy.

Given that context, it was surprising some “SNL” viewers to see him invited back to Studio 8H. Here’s a look at Chappelle’s recent history of trans jokes, and the resulting backlash.

August: In a series of monologues in New York City’s Radio City Music Hall, Chappelle made jokes targeting trans people for at least 20 minutes, the Vulture reported. He made explicit jokes about trans people’s bodies and referred to trans people as “transgender,” among other comments, Vulture said.

These were not the first jokes that Chappelle made at the expense of trans people. But he delivered them in New York after generating some backlash for previous comments.

“That joke and others in this section suffer from the same problems as their specials: they are rooted in disgust and generalization,” the Vulture wrote of a Chappelle joke about ISIS fighters horrified by transgender soldiers. “They’re just not good.”

26 of August: Netflix released a stand-up special, “Sticks and Stones,” in which Chappelle performed more material about trans people, including some content from his Radio City shows. In an epilogue to the special, she mentioned her friend Daphne Dorman, a trans comedian, whom she said she laughed the most at her jokes about trans people.

October 5th: Netflix released Chappelle’s special “The Closer.” In it, she goes off on an extended tangent about transgender people and makes several jokes at their expense. She confuses the gender of a trans comedian, she returns to making explicit jokes about trans women’s bodies, and she defends TERFs, or trans-exclusive radical feminists.

She also referred to trans people as “transgender,” asserting that “gender is a given” and then saying that Dorman killed herself shortly after other trans people criticized her for defending Chappelle after “Sticks and Stones.”

By the time Chappelle’s special was published, at least 33 states had introduced anti-transgender legislation, much of it targeting trans youth.

October 13: Amid calls from LGBTQ advocates, fellow comedians, Netflix employees and social justice organizations to pull the special, Netflix stood by Chappelle.

In a letter obtained by the Verge and Variety, Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos told employees that the special will remain available to stream.

“We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t think ‘The Closer’ crosses that line… Some people find stand-up art petty, but our members enjoy it. , and is an important part of our content offering,” Sarandos wrote.

Netflix has suspended three employees for attending a virtual directors’ meeting to discuss the special without notifying the meeting organizer in advance. Among them was Terra Field, a trans senior software engineer who had publicly criticized the special and Netflix. His suspension was later revoked.

October 19: Sarandos told Variety that he “screwed up” his communications with Netflix employees, but reaffirmed that he didn’t think the special qualifies as “hate speech.”

October 20: About 65 protesters, including Netflix employees and trans advocates, took part in a walkout protesting Netflix’s support for “The Closer.” Protesters called on Netflix to hire more trans and non-binary executives and fund more trans and non-binary talent.

October 24th: Three trans comedians told CNN they were disappointed by Chappelle’s jokes, even though all three said they once considered the celebrated entertainer an inspiration for comedy. While all agreed that jokes about trans people are not inherently offensive, they said Chappelle’s set was permeated with the same hateful rhetoric and language used by anti-transgender critics.

“When he talks about the trans community, he’s not talking about them, he’s talking against them,” comedian Nat Puff told CNN. “And that’s the difference between saying something funny about the trans community and saying something offensive about the trans community.”

A fourth comedian, Flame Monroe, one of the only trans comedians whose material airs on Netflix, told CNN that she thinks Chappelle should be allowed to joke about trans people, even though she was initially shocked by some of his actions. comments.

October 25: Chappelle addressed critics on a show in Nashville, appearing alongside Joe Rogan, the podcast host who has been criticized for dismissing the effectiveness of vaccines and using racial slurs, among other controversies.

Chappelle posted videos on his official Instagram account from the set, apparently addressing trans Netflix employees who participated in the walkout over “The Closer.”

“It seems like I’m the only one who can’t go to the office anymore,” he said.

“I want everyone in this audience to know that even though the media frames it as me against that community, that’s not what it is,” Chappelle continued. “Don’t blame the LBGTQ (sic) community for any of this. This has nothing to do with them. It’s about corporate interest and what I can say and what I can’t say.”

“For the record, and I need you to know this, everyone I know from that community has been nothing but caring and supportive. So I don’t know what all this nonsense is about.”

12th of July: “The Closer” was nominated for two Emmy Awards, including “Outstanding Variety Special (Prerecorded).” Adele then won the category.

July 21: A Minneapolis venue canceled Chappelle’s sold-out show hours before its doors opened, apologizing to “staff, artists and our community” after receiving criticism for featuring Chappelle.

“We believe in diversity of voices and freedom of artistic expression, but by honoring that, we lost sight of the impact this would have,” wrote First Avenue, the venue famous for appearing in Prince’s movie “Purple Rain.”

November 5th: “Saturday Night Live” Announced Chappelle would be their post-midterm host. the reaction I was Quick.

Countryside joked on Twitter:: “Wait, I thought I had canceled it (sic). Is it possible that cancel culture is not a real thing?

November 10: After the New York Post reported that several “SNL” writers are boycotting Saturday’s episode, representatives for Chappelle told CNN there are no issues with the writers or cast members. The current “SNL” staff includes non-binary cast member Molly Kearney and non-binary writer Celeste Yim.

Chappelle will take the stage live on Saturday at 11:30 pm ET.


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