In the latest Dave Chappelle show on Netflix entitled The Closer, many controversial topics were brought to light and torn apart right after, with the LGBTQ selection of jokes seemingly being the highlight of the show and having left the biggest impact. As of late, the American comedian is no stranger to serious backlash since his previous stand up show in 2019 entitled ‘Sticks and Stones’ made him one of the biggest targets of twitter warriors and cancel culture to date. Regardless of whether one was for or against the remarks that were made on his last show, the world appears to strongly agree on the same idea that everyone seems to have something to say; bringing up the content in hand while picking sides and standing behind their own communities of interest. Yet, evidently the most important points of the night have gone right over people’s heads and what could have brought different groups and opinions together was instead sadly disregarded or ignored.
A human experience
At the end of his take in The Closer, Dave Chappelle begins his montage stating; “Before I go, I want to share a story to this point because it’s important...” introducing the odd yet interesting character of the late Daphne Dorman, a transgender woman and self-proclaimed comedian, who would take part in many of his downtown stand-ups, laughing at his debatable jokes and interacting with the star. Briefly put, the comedian’s greatest fan was then given the opportunity of a lifetime to open for one of his San Francisco events. As she stayed after her comedic performance and joined the audience, Dave and the woman began engaging in lighthearted banter, starting what we thought to be a friendly conversation, generating laughter from the crowd and making the remaining night enjoyable.
All of it took a sudden turn though, when Dave finally explains to Daphne that he does not understand her, to which the opening act coldly responds back, “I don’t need you to understand me, I just want you to believe that I am having a human experience!” To this very powerful statement, the star follows, “I believe you because it takes one to know one.” At this moment, despite their different backgrounds, opinions and possibly communities of interests, the proclaimed non-cancellable man recognized the person in the character of Daphne Dorman. And for once, she was no longer viewed and reduced for being a transgender woman, her oddness, and the terrible act that she performed that night, but instead accepted and acknowledged in the simplest form; A human being having a human experience.
In this day and age, we are quick to form an opinion and stick to it, patronizing anyone and everyone who opposes our point of view and preventing us from potentially starting an open conversation. At this point, it is no longer a secret that this way of thinking has divided us even further into factions rather than bring us together; placed us in opposition to each other’s interests and most importantly, disallowed a conversation that would recognize the person in one another to ever begin. You could say that we’re metaphorically walking opposite each other with blinders on the side of our heads, putting up walls between us so high that we begin to forget that there is as much of a person with emotions, a past, and other human attributes on the opposite side as on the side we are on and are so strongly rooting for. Regrettably, as a result, this confusion has led to online threats, family and friends being torn apart, public harassment and even death.
To conclude his story, Dave Chappelle describes that after his ‘Sticks and Stones’ Netflix appearance, in his own words, the comedian was “dragged” on twitter for his comments on the LGBTQ community. In his defence, Daphne spoke up about the matter and clarified that Dave Chappelle was not punching down, viciously joking against the group because he did not see himself above them, but he saw them as equals. Unfortunately, this resulted in the woman being dragged along, and the twitter warriors who first went after the star then raised up against her tweet as well. The comedian and actor later revealed that shortly after the incident, his friend Daphne Dorman committed suicide. It is to be said that there is no direct proof or link between the twitter rage and what led to Daphne’s death, however it is hard to overlook the mere possibility that the attacks could have pushed her to the edge, reaching her limits and finally, drove her to take her own life.
Conversation for comprehension
Freedom of speech stops the moment you are no longer allowed to think for yourself. Freedom of choice stops the moment you are no longer allowed to be yourself. At the end of the day, we all want the same thing and that is the freedom to grow, to make mistakes, to have our own set of judgments and to be recognized for every part of our existence, whether it aligns with society’s ideals or not, whether it speaks to your sense of truth or not, and whether we both agree or disagree on the matter at hand. For the past decade, individual restraint has grown into some sort of internal disease, weakening the process that enables one to realize true self-awareness, dividing its people in two, and persuading the masses no longer to think for themselves, but with little reasoning and respect to anyone who opposes their interests.
When we take a look at current circumstances, they reflect such contradiction and self-conflict that it begs the question; how could we possibly start to understand each other’s point of view if we do not take the time to listen to one another first? In many of today’s cultural cancelations of individuals whom we collectively believe to be permanently in the wrong, we rarely put the same amount of energy into scrutinizing them to help bring about change, right their wrongs and trying to understand where someone is coming from and what brought up the act or event in the first place. Our goal shouldn’t be to bury the issue just for someone else with similar motives and heart share to upset the same masses again — we need to get to the core of the problem and resolve it indefinitely, while coming up with a solution that should give voice to and benefit every side. I think it is time for us to ask the question: does cancel culture actually work or does it only make our worlds smaller? Let’s look at a conversation for example, if we simply reply to someone’s point of view or action with “you’re wrong, you’re wrong!” it immediately shuts down the dialogue, leaving no room left for interpretation, comprehension and compromise.
In conclusion, no matter how one may feel, with the understanding that no one is always completely in the wrong nor totally in the right, we must all make a collective effort to tolerate and learn from one another, uplift and stand in support of our differences rather than tearing each other down for having diverse beliefs, opinions or communities of interest. Additionally, as Daphne said, maybe we do not need to understand and stand on the same side of the wall just to acknowledge someone’s existence, struggles and chosen path in life because every person in the simplest of forms is just a human being having a human experience.