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Dissenting Opinions in Hollywood, Exit Stage Left: Drama Over Dave Chappelle’s Emmy Nod

July 13, 2022

Comedian Dave Chappelle is no stranger to Emmy nominations — or angry mobs. Last fall, his comedy special, “The Closer” (TV-MA), launched on Netflix and sparked a scandal due to what were labeled “transphobic and homophobic” and “derogatory comments about the LGBTQ+ community.”

Known for his offensive, politically-incorrect adult humor, Chappelle’s special featured bits where he discussed transgenderism, the cancelling of J.K. Rowling, and labeled himself “Team TERF” (Transgender Exclusionary Radical Feminist), resulting in a loudly critical response. Netflix employees denounced the comedian, orchestrated a walk out in protest of the platform airing the special, and many called for his cancellation. Amidst the sharp pushback internally and externally, Netflix kept “The Closer” and continued to work with Chappelle.

Meanwhile, Chappelle doubled down in response to the critics, offering to engage with the enraged Netflix staff and continuing to defend his work. He released a video statement via Instagram filmed in front of a live audience: “They said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. Well, it seems like I’m the only one that can’t go to the office anymore. I want everyone in this audience to know… To the transgender community, I’m more than willing to give you an audience, but you will not summon me. I am not bending to anybody’s demands. If you want to meet with me, I’d be more than willing to…” In the wake of the ongoing Chappelle controversy, TV host Steve Harvey noted that, “Political correctness has killed comedy.”

Nine months later, the Hollywood drama continues. Tuesday, the comedy special was nominated for a 2022 Emmy Award for both Pre-Recorded Variety Special and Directing for a Variety Special, a decision met with blaring backlash from media outlets, left-leaning figureheads, and angry Twitter users alike.

Some are using Chappelle’s nomination following his comedy scandal as proof for their claim that “cancel culture” is a myth, though conservative movie critic Christian Toto has his own take: “The Chappelle Emmy nomination is interesting. Hollywood, on paper, rejected Chappelle’s trans-related humor in last year’s Netflix comedy special, ‘The Closer.’ Behind the scenes, Emmy voters chose to praise his work, a possible statement that industry workers don’t accept the free speech restrictions in place due to woke sensibilities,” he told The Washington Stand. “Emmy voters could let their voices be heard anonymously, and that freedom allowed them to honor a very controversial comic.”

Chapelle is not an anomaly. In the past several years, as the issue of transgenderism has become an increasingly taboo topic in mainstream culture, Washington, D.C., and Hollywood, so have the vocal dissenters who refuse to submit to the orthodoxy of the ideology. Celebrity TERFs J.K. Rowling, Bette Midler, and Macy Gray have made headlines for voicing their opinions on the matter and in turn, provoking public criticism. “[Midler and Gray] shared opinions about women that offended some on the cultural Left. Midler didn’t face significant blowback after her Twitter quasi-apology. Gray, whose career and legacy aren’t as secure as Midler’s, eventually backtracked on her comments,” Toto assessed in remarks to TWS.

“Hollywood is an increasingly intolerant industry. Share the ‘wrong’ views and your next job could be in jeopardy. To do otherwise could cost her [Gray] professionally.”

Marjorie Jackson is a reporter for The Washington Stand.