Dave Chappelle sparks outrage with Grammy win for transphobic Netflix special The Closer

Fans hit back at Dave Chappelle Grammy win. (Getty)

Anti-trans comedian Dave Chappelle defied “cancel culture” claims after winning best comedy album at the 2023 Grammys.

Despite facing backlash for transphobic content in his recent Netflix special The Closer, the controversial performer scooped the accolade for best comedy album at the 2023 Grammys.

Since Chapelle was not in attendance, presenter Babyface accepted the Grammy on his behalf. The Recording Academy CEO, Harvey Mason Jr, previously defended the decision for Chappelle’s nomination.

“If the voters feel like a creator deserves a nomination, they’re going to vote for them,” he told The Hollywood Reporter.

“We’re never going to be in the business of deciding someone’s moral position or where we evaluate them to be on the scale of morality.

“I think our job is to evaluate the art and the quality of the art. We can make sure that all of our spaces are safe and people don’t feel threatened by anyone.”

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Dave Chappelle in his controversial Netflix special, The Closer. (Mathieu Bitton/Netflix)
Dave Chappelle in his controversial Netflix special, The Closer. (Mathieu Bitton/Netflix)

Why was Dave Chappelle’s Netflix special The Closer controversial?

Jokes in Chapelle’s Netflix special included defending rapper DaBaby’s homophobic rant and aligning himself with JK Rowling and “team TERF” – a term used for trans exclusionary ideological thinking.

When the special first aired on Netflix in October 2021, artists and activists spoke out against the decision, leading to a Netflix employee walkout.

Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos defended the special at the time, saying: “We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line.”

But after the walkout, Netflix backtracked. “We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that’s been caused. We respect the decision of any employee who chooses to walk out, and recognise we have much more work to do both within Netflix and in our content.”

Despite trying to make amends, Chappelle secured more Netflix specials, with Netflix CEO Reed Hastings saying they would order them “again and again”.

Since then, Chappelle has gone onto brand his critics as “transgender lunatics” and told a sold-out crowd he has been the victim of “cancel culture”.

What is the response to Dave Chappelle’s Grammy win?

Naturally, people are far from impressed with Chapelle’s Grammy win, with many pointing out this is definitive proof that cancel culture simply does not exist.

“So sad to see Dave Chappelle has been cancelled once again by winning his fourth Grammy. These poor persecuted millionaire truth speakers and their fight against being silenced and ignored by the industry,” one person wrote.

Chapelle’s career continues to thrive, from hosting Saturday Night Live to his latest Grammy victory. And given the last year’s award-winner was alleged sexual harasser, Louis CK, it’s anything but a good track record for problematic performers.

“Wow. Grammys really don’t care; one year after giving an award to admitted harasser Louis C.K., they gave one to Dave Chappelle’s homophobic and transphobic Netflix special. Sigh,” another person wrote.

Others are deeply disappointed that Chapelle should be decorated for transphobic and homophobic at the same time that the Grammys recognised Kim Petras and Sam Smith in the category for best pop duo/group performance in what symbolised a groundbreaking win for the trans and non-binary community.

As one person put it: “Kim Petras, a transgender musician who thanked other trans artists and specifically SOPHIE in her acceptance speech, just won a Grammy on the same night as Dave Chappelle, a militant transphobe who loves to s**t on transpeople. What a night huh.”

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