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Hannah Gadsby: “F–K You” to Netflix Co-CEO for Name-Dropping Her in Dave Chappelle Transphobia Scandal

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Emmy-winning comedian Hannah Gadsby, who was name-dropped in an internal memo from Netflix co-CEO Ted Sarandos defending Dave Chappelle’s special The Closer from backlash over transphobia, decided to use her endlessly sharp tongue to call out the streaming service.

“Hey Ted Sarandos! Just a quick note to let you know that I would prefer if you didn’t drag my name into your mess,” she wrote. “Now I have to deal with even more of the hate and anger that Dave Chappelle’s fans like to unleash on me every time Dave gets 20 million dollars to process his emotionally stunted partial world view. You didn’t pay me nearly enough to deal with the real world consequences of the hate speech dog whistling you refuse to acknowledge, Ted. F**k you and your amoral algorithm cult… I do sh*ts with more back bone than you. That’s just a joke! I definitely didn’t cross a line because you just told the world there isn’t one.”


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A post shared by Dr. Hannah Gadsby (@hannah_gadsby)

When I went to pull up Hannah Gadsby’s Instagram post, I glanced at the comments for a second and, naturally, the first one was some dude in a cap saying some variant of “Why did you watch it if it offends you?” This was in reference to Gadsby saying, in her caption, that she did watch the entire special, lest anyone try to claim she just doesn’t understand the context.

I hate when this gets thrown at people, because I’ve literally seen people go “well if you watched the entire special …” in response to people who criticize it without watching it. So no matter what you do, you are apparently to blame for feeling like the material is unfunny and potentially damaging.

Roxane Gay said it best in her recent Op-Ed for The New York Times:

“We generally have the same debates about comedy over and over. Let’s address those upfront: Art should be made without restriction. Free speech reigns supreme. Sometimes good art should make us uncomfortable, and sometimes bad people can make good art. Comedians, in particular, are going to punch up and down and side-to-side.

Also true: Comedy is not above criticism, even if the most famous, wildly wealthy comedians will keep insulting those who question them. It’s just laughs, right? Lighten up. All criticism is forestalled with this setup, in which when you object to anything a comedian says, you’re the problem. You’re the one who’s narrow-minded or ‘brittle’ or humorless.”

I don’t know what we do with work like The Closer besides call it out. Taking it down wouldn’t make a difference, because at the core of it, the reason it does well is because there are people who believe that their casual transphobia, homophobia, and sexism is harmless. We all make mistakes, we all need to be educated, and we can even rightfully call out issues in other communities. But, at this point, Dave Chappelle has failed to deliver any meaningful, thoughtful commentary on the LGBTQ community.

To quote from Gay again:

“There’s a compelling observation about the relatively significant progress the L.G.B.T.Q. community has made, while progress toward racial equity has been much slower. But in these formulations, there are no gay Black people. Mr. Chappelle pits people from different marginalized groups against one another, callously suggesting that trans people are performing the gender equivalent of blackface.

In the next breath, Mr. Chappelle says something about how a Black gay person would never exhibit the behaviors to which he objects, an assertion many would dispute. The poet Saeed Jones, for example, wrote in GQ that watching “The Closer” felt like a betrayal: “I felt like I’d just been stabbed by someone I once admired and now he was demanding that I stop bleeding.””

Dave Chappelle has the right to say what he wants, but we have the right to say that what he’s doing is toxic and harmful to the community he claims to care about: the Black community. Because we are part of the LGBTQ community as well, and you are punching down on us—hard.

(via Deadline, image: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

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Princess (she/her-bisexual) is a Brooklyn born Megan Fox truther, who loves Sailor Moon, mythology, and diversity within sci-fi/fantasy. Still lives in Brooklyn with her over 500 Pokémon that she has Eevee trained into a mighty army. Team Zutara forever.