GQ | And this is why Dave Chappelle’s recent Netflix specials are so disappointing.
Perhaps my expectations were too high. I hoped that Chappelle, now entering his mid-40s, would have used his signature slyness and world-weary insights to tackle subjects more daunting than the low-hanging and dated comedic fruit of trans people, rape, and famous black men (O.J. Simpson and Bill Cosby) accused of horrific crimes against (mostly) white women. Especially after taking a full decade away from the public microscope. And especially during a time when there seems to be so fucking much—politically, culturally, and racially—for a black comedian as sharp and shrewd as Chappelle to dive into. His focus on the horror of political correctness, instead, felt like something you’d expect to come from a megarich 43-year-old man from the outskirts of Ohio. Who, instead of evolving with the world, has remained stagnant and believes the world has gone mad while pining for time when things were simpler. Which is who he is.
I recognize the presumption and perhaps even self-indulgence of suggesting that I know what Chappelle should have been talking about better than he does. There are no emails and comments I hate worse than “Why did you write about this thing instead of this other thing I wanted you to write about?” and I’m doing this now. I do not wish to be that guy, especially when discussing Chappelle, a man whose break from the public came as a result of corporate forces trying to tell him what he could and couldn’t—and should and shouldn’t—talk about. He is a public figure whom we (black people) have collectively and justifiably circled the wagons for; sensitive to his wish for peace of mind, and his attempt to possess it; ultimately aiming to protect one of our icons from the scourge of capital letter Whiteness attempting to transmute him.
I just... I don’t know, I just would like for him to join us in 2017. There’s so much he can do here.