Embattled comedian Dave Chappelle, according to Damon Wayans, is more than simply an “artist”—he’s a “unicorn,” a freedom warrior in the Netflix special “The Closer,” which has already sparked outrage.
“I feel like Dave freed the slaves. Yeah, the comedians,” Wayans, 61, claimed TMZ. Wayans was headed to LAX to catch a flight and made the remark while wearing a mask. “We were slaves to PC culture, and he just, you know—as an artist, he’s Van Gogh. He cut his ear off. He’s trying to tell us it’s OK.”
It was only a matter of time before Chappelle’s Netflix special, the sixth and last installment of the 48-year-old Emmy winner’s lucrative contract with the streaming service, pushed hot buttons by making explosive jokes about trans women.
Critics wanted Netflix to remove “The Closer” from its catalog, but its chief executive said Monday that he preferred to support “artistic freedom.”
“Chappelle is one of the most popular stand-up comedians today, and we have a long-standing deal with him. His last special ‘Sticks & Stones,’ also controversial, is our most-watched, stickiest, and most award-winning stand-up special to date,” Ted Sarandos, co-CEO and chief creative officer of Netflix, said in a corporate letter. Adding, “As with our other talent, we work hard to support their creative freedom—even though this means there will always be content on Netflix some people believe is harmful.”
The question posed by a TMZ cameraman, who went one step further than Sarandos, was if Wayans thought Chappelle’s daring acts allowed musicians to “be a bit more risqué or free to be yourself?”
“I’ve always been free,” the “Lethal Weapon” star said, “I just think he’s saying, ‘You know what? All that I have, I’m not afraid to lose it for the sake of creative freeness of speech. You can’t edit yourself. Comedians, we’re like—Mercedes makes a great car, but you gotta crash a lot of them before they perfect it.'”
A transgender rights organization said that “Chappelle’s brand is linked with mocking trans persons and other disadvantaged populations.
“I can’t speak about the content of the show,” Wayans told TMZ when questioned about the critiques. In any case, I believe there’s something more important we should be discussing. “There’s a bigger conversation we need to have. Someone needs to look us in the eye and go, ‘You’re no longer free in this country. You’re not free to say what you want. You say what we want you to say. Otherwise, we will cancel you.’ That’s the discussion we should have.'”