Here’s why offensive comedians should be canceled. Follow Jezebel’s Cancel Tournament to see what ultimately gets canceled
I remember when I thought Dave Chappelle was funny, groundbreaking even. It was 2003, and The Chappelle Show had just debuted. Fast forward to today, and while the times as well as the tastes of many comedy fans have changed in the past two decades to reflect new norms of what I would describe as basic human decency and consideration, Chappelle’s posture to his art has remained largely static, a proud throwback who still delights in making jokes about trans people and the survivors of Michael Jackson’s alleged sexual abuse. He probably imagines he’s pushing boundaries, when really he’s just everyone’s boorish uncle who continues to make fun of faggots.
If he were just an old man whose once funny and fresh jokes have now curdled into something distasteful, well, so what? The fate of almost all rich, successful men is to become a caricature of their former selves, their growth stopping at the precise moment that they attain a level of fame and wealth that insulates them from the concerns of the rest of us. But to Chappelle, and to other comics like Shane Gillis, who was hired and then quickly fired by SNL earlier this year after very recent videos of him mocking Chinese people (hello, are you my middle school bully?) came to light, the problem is not that their stale bits relying on racism and homophobia for laughs don’t land with many audiences anymore—the problem is cancel culture, and political correctness run amok. Cue the whining!
Gillis’s firing, in particular, was the subject of a lot of fretting by mediocre men who are mistaking criticism and reasonable consequences for bad behavior with some sort of actual firing squad. We are living in an “era of culture unforgiveness where comedic misfires are subject to the intolerable inquisition of those who never risked bombing on stage themselves,” according to Rob Schneider. “This is just cancel culture, the guy shouldn’t have been fired,” Jim Jefferies said.
All of the handwringing over “cancel culture” has made it (even more) obvious that these comedians, who would like to think of themselves as visionary truthtellers and risk taking artists, are in fact just big weenies who are so fragile that they fall apart from even the tiniest bit of (valid) criticism. Now that, actually, is fucking funny.