By Diary of a Chocolate Girl
In my late teenage years, when the rise of social media was in the middle of its erection, I always had a thought that the internet could catch up to you at any time. Now, this was a thought of mine way before cancel culture was a thing.
I had the thought of what I say and post could have either an incredible resurfacing of praise and support or of shame and shunning.
To piece the conversation around what this post is about, I recently went through the most impactful moments of the year thus far via social media influence. The good, the bad, the praised, and the ugly. Every situation centered around the event, the effect, and the response.
The event is what caused a reaction for views to be able to share how they felt in either a reactionary response, a response in agreement, those entertained with no opinion, and the offended.
The effect of the event is what prompts the viewers to respond. Either those feelings described above are then written or recorded to share one’s personal opinion of the matters of the event.
Then the responses have a trickle effect of its own. It is capsulated with individuals who more often than few that band together to support those who think with a like mind or oppose those who do not. That to me is how I simply to a social media reaction break down in my mind.
One of the most sensitive topics today is those centered around the LGBTQIA+ community. In those who stand in support and those who may not agree with the beliefs of their community. I have not quite found the in-between. Maybe that will be a later post.
Now rewinding back to my initial thought of the rise of social media and my late teen thoughts of the damage that social media can potentially have on an individual. Now in my thirties, I am even more aware of what I say and do not say. These days, they both have consequences.
In the recent uproar of Dave Chapelle’s Netflix special, The Closer, many shared their opinions or support of those who were offended by the comedians’ jokes.
I watched as friends from the past from college, to high school to friends who I even consider my online “gamer” friends all shared their opinions of which side of the argument of canceling Dave Chapelle that they stood on.
Many jokes were made that involved the transgender community.
I have always been a Dave Chapelle fan long before his Netflix deal. The early years in the career of his role of playing Reggie in The Nutty Professor was when I shared some of my first laughs from the comedian/actor.
As cerebral of a person as I am, I waited until the controversy died down a bit which was initiated by Netflix making the statement that they would not be removing the comedian’s special and that they stood behind Chapelle in support of his special that included the focus around his own opinions. The jokes.
While watching the special, I indeed laughed quite a bit. I sat in moments of listening to the foreshadowing of his jokes. Then the special came to an end.
At the conclusion of the special, while sitting on my couch, I was applauding. Alone. In my apartment.
Now I mentioned cancel culture and the careful consideration of what individuals posts online. I think about where I see myself in the future as a writer. I think about what I choose to stand behind in support and what I do not agree with.
In the past, Chapelle has been scrutinized and called transphobic in response to his jokes from the early 2000s.
The final 20 minutes of this special is what left me in thought and in the solitude of what Dave Chapelle spoke of.
Hear me out.
He spoke of a woman who he had befriended named Daphne Dorman. Dorman was transgender and Chapelle gave her a chance to open up for him one night. He spoke and shared his experience of Daphne and his encounter of her first stand-up experience and a conversation that stuck with him.
In the end, he shared that Daphne Dorman took to Twitter to defend the comedian in regards to the backlash he received from the trans community. He reiterated the tweet she shared in regards to his character of being a great individual that she knew personally and his jokes are just that. Jokes.
In response of the event, which was Daphne responding to the critics on behalf of Chapelle. The community responded with harsh comments for Daphne standing beside the comedian. Responses from her own community.
At the end of the special, Dave shared how Daphne supported him online while sharing his gratitude he revealed that after her support and the continuance of the online bashing, six days later Daphne committed suicide by jumping off of a building.
The special had its moments where the material spoke could be taken as offensive, bashful, or even insensitive. The jokes were coming from an individual who had an agenda behind the jokes. I think this is the part that many missed by being misted by the overshadowing of the hate it received online.
Dave Chapelle shared in closing,
“Empathy is not gay. Empathy is not black. Empathy is bisexual. It must go both ways. Remember, taking a man’s livelihood is akin to killing him.”
He ended by stating that he is done telling jokes about the LGBTQIA community until both he and the community are sure and in agreement that both parties are laughing together. He also had one request from the community.
“ All I ask from your community with all humility, will you please stop punching down on my people?”
He ended with dropping the mic. The irony of this request is the same requests Chapelle received from the community in response to his early 2000s jokes. Long before he even knew what “punching down” means.
The comedian explained the meaning of punching down as his late friend, Daphne described in her tweet, as the term requires one to think less of another.
The premise of the special I believe is far beyond what those who knew the event, the effects it had, and the responses that it was meant to start.
A simple conversation.
But will it ever be received as intended without the presumed perception given by social media that created an overcast due to the messenger and not the attention given to the message?
Chanel Davis is a contributing writer and the creator and operator of the Diary Of A Chocolate Girl podcast aiming to connect with chocolate girls all over through personal experiences and opinions with mild humor and a spiritual flare. Be sure to connect on IG and Facebook @DiaryofaChocolateGirl