From black people “beating up Asians for no reason” and other race relations, to the LGBTQ (no longer the Alphabet People) community, to feminism, to the Me Too movement, Dave Chappelle pokes fun and provides insight into many contentious subjects in the country in his latest – and last, at least “for a minute” – Netflix special, "The Closer."
Chappelle’s latest special opens with him standing in front of a maskless crowd, in an intimate, close setting. For a moment, you forget it was recorded in August 2021, at least until he mentions his personal experience with vaccination and Covid-19. But it doesn’t take long for Chappelle to hit many hot-topic subjects, one of which is the Me Too movement. He illustrates the flaws with it, the superficiality and vapidness around it when it hit Hollywood, and the hypocrisy around it. Chappelle isn’t wrong about it at all, and he actually offers a bit of advice of what could have gone differently – and maybe what we can change – with the movement.
#MeToo has been in the news for some time. It technically began in 2006 as the “me too.” Movement, but the hashtag #MeToo, as many may know it more commonly, blew up in 2017 when women in Hollywood like Alyssa Milano came forward with accusations against former film producer Harvey Weinstein. The fact that it gained most traction from a few tweets from big-name women in Hollywood, and then went 11 years without that same level of fame or notoriety, speaks to something. If women were truly cared about, and if this were something that mattered to people, why was this something that only blew up when actresses shed light on their experiences?
While the stories of many non-celebrity women followed and were shared with the #MeToo hashtag, it begs the question – would this have mattered if famous women in Hollywood hadn’t made it trendy first?
Would the Me Too movement have mattered if famous actresses hadn’t made it trendy first?
“The way they handled [their activism] was stupid. They were doing shit like going to the Golden Globes and all of them would be like ‘Let’s all go to the Golden Globes and wear black dresses and give these men a piece of our mind.’
You think Martin Luther King was like ‘I want everybody to keep riding the bus, but wear matching outfits.’ You gotta get off the bus and walk. Real talk, that was a silly movement. ‘I want everybody to wear crochet pussy hats so they know we’re serious.’ What the f*ck was y’all doing?”
Those celebrity women, who are supposedly capable of affecting real change, resorted to what’s effectively nothing more than a publicity stunt for the movement, a pointless one at that (like it’s so taboo to wear a black dress to an awards ceremony). Chappelle comments on this as well in The Closer:
“If these women were serious, you know what they would have done? They all would have fired their agents. And they would have went to the mailroom of one of these big agencies and found a woman that was bustin’ her hump in there and said, ‘If you want to talk to us, then you have to talk to her.’ And if they did that, then she would be big and they would be big and nobody would get fed to Harvey Weinstein. But did they do that? No. Was that their idea? No. Surprisingly, it was mine.”
He’s not wrong here. These A-list women celebrities could have walked straight out of any blockbuster movie or whatever exciting project they were working on. If not because of their experiences, than for those of women who had been victimized. They could have fired their agents and given that position to a deserving, hard working woman who may understand exactly their plight or even share some experiences.
Instead, we get publicity stunts and people making cute social media posts and calling it a day.
Instead, we get publicity stunts and people making cute social media posts and calling it a day. Real change takes more effort than that, and at times it can be uncomfortable. Chappelle actually references a bit of history which speaks to this:
“When Susan B. Anthony was having that meeting and Sojourner Truth’s black ass showed up…all the white women asked Sojourner Truth not to speak. They didn’t want to conflate the issues of women’s rights and slavery. But Sojourner Truth went up there anyway.”
I would guess many women celebrity-activists are complacent and okay with the amount (or lack of) change. There are few that stick strongly to their principles, one example being Rose McGowan, and they should be recognized for that.
“Every Great Cause Eventually Degenerates into a Racket”
The Me Too movement appears to continue to operate on the mission and drive that created it. Founder Tarana Burke shares on the movement’s inception page that the movement was inspired by a child coming to her and sharing her experience of sexual monstrosities done to her by her mother’s boyfriend. Latest reports on the movement’s website condemn sexual assault and harassment, like that done by former (and formerly beloved) New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, saying, “[his resignation] should have happened a long time ago.”
However, #MeToo’s fame paved the way for more corrupt movements to flourish. The Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, for instance. Launched in 2018 (one year after #MeToo went viral), it aimed to help people (but especially women) feel “safe and respected at work.” They claimed to want to create “a world where women have an equal shot at success and security. A world where no one lives in fear of sexual harassment or assault.” And yet, the cofounder of the Legal Defense Fund recently resigned from Time’s Up after she was caught helping former NY governor Andrew Cuomo by consulting on an op-ed about one of Governor Cuomo’s accusers. Said op-ed would have tried to impugn her outright, which is rich coming from a movement that stems from beliefs and values like “believe all women.”
Many women celebrity-activists are complacent and okay with the amount (or lack of) change.
When the truth around women’s issues such as these comes to light, it begs the question, “Do they really care about women?” Perhaps more than anything else, it’s done to manipulate people. Why else would it be important and celebrated to open up about sexual assault, unless it’s done by someone of a particular political affiliation or social alignment?
Dave Chappelle’s The Closer is hilarious and topical, and I wonder if it can really stir up controversy if it’s poking fun at everyone, not just one group of people? At some point in time, this was the point of comedy and what made it so important to have in life.
Regardless of how people take it, Chappelle’s take on feminism and the hypocrisy of #MeToo is one worth pondering over, and frankly, it’s a takeaway you can apply to all parts of your own life as an individual. People may celebrate your complaints about something, your cute posts to “raise awareness,” and your actions that don’t affect any change. But it’s important to get out of that space, get offline, and think tactically about what you can actually do.
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