Star Trek host Wil Wheaton targeted Dave Chappelle in a recent social media post calling the comedian a “bigot” after it was announced Chappelle would headline Netflix’s Netflix is a Joke Festival.
Wheaton took to Facebook where he shared a Rolling Stone article announcing that Chappelle would headline Netflix’s comedy festival.
He then proceeded to comment on the announcement writing, “Absolutely disgusted. Every single comedian who is on this bill should withdraw unless and until this despicable bigot is uninvited.”
“Any comedian who is part of this should be ashamed of themselves. Netflix may not believe in holding this piece of shit to account, but you all have to live with yourselves and the choices you make to perform with him,” he continued.
He then concluded the post, “And f*** EVERYONE at Netflix who is part of this. Trans rights are human rights and words matter.”
However, he didn’t stop there. Wheaton added an edit to the post writing, “EDIT: 12 hours later, an important follow-up thought. It’s very easy for me to sit in my chair and issue edicts about what other people should do.”
“That’s presumptuous, and it overwhelms a larger point that I made in a comment here, which is also in its own post. I withdraw that outburst, and I regret saying it. Like, I don’t know if anyone cares, but I guess I do and I want to own it,” he stated.
In a lengthy comment on the post, which he would turn into its own post, he attempted to explain his thoughts more thoroughly.
He began, “For anyone who genuinely doesn’t understand why I feel as strongly as I do about people like Chapelle making transphobic comments that are passed off as jokes, I want to share a story that I hope will help you understand, and contextualize my reaction to his behavior.”
Wheaton then started his story, “When I was sixteen, I played ice hockey almost every night at a local rink. I was a goalie, and they always needed goalies, so I could show up, put on my gear, and just wait for some team to call me onto the ice. It was a lot of fun.”
“One night, I’d played a couple hours of pickup with some really great dudes. They were friendly, they were funny, they enjoyed the game, they treated me like I was part of their team. They welcomed me,” he recounted. “After we were finished, we were all in the locker room getting changed into our regular clothes.”
Wheaton then paused his story to discuss comedy and his love for it, “Before I tell you what happened next, I want to talk specifically about comedy and how much I loved it when I was growing up. I listened to records and watched comedy specials whenever I could.”
“One of the definitive comedy specials for me and my friends was Eddie Murphy’s Delirious, from 1983. It had bits that still kill me,” he relayed. ” The ice cream song, aunt Bunny falling down the stairs, mom throwing the shoe. Really funny stuff.”
However, he then wrote, “There is also extensive homophobic material that is just f***ing appalling and inexcusable. Long stretches of this comedy film are devoted to mocking gay people, using the slur that starts with F over and over and over.”
“Young Wil, who watched this with his suburban white upper middle class friends, in his privileged bubble, thought it was the funniest, edgiest, dirtiest thing he’d ever heard. It KILLED him,” he recalled.
“And all of it was dehumanizing to gay men. All of it was cruel. All of it was bigoted. All of it was punching down. And I didn’t know any better,” he wrote. ” I accepted the framing, I developed a view of gay men as predatory, somehow less than straight men, absolutely worthy of mockery and contempt. Always good for a joke, though.”
“Let me put this another way: A comedian who I thought was one of the funniest people on the planet totally normalized making a mockery of gay people, and because I was a privileged white kid, raised by privileged white parents, there was nobody around me to challenge that perception,” he asserted.
Wheaton then blamed the comedy special for his own behavior, “For much of my teen years, I was embarrassingly homophobic, and it all started with that comedy special.”
The Star Trek host then returned to his original tale, “Let’s go back to that locker room. So I’m talking with these guys, and we’re all just laughing and having a good time. We’re doing that sports thing where you talk about the great plays, and feel like you’re part of something special.”
“And then, without even realizing what I was doing, that awful word came out of my mouth. “Blah blah blah F****t,” I said,” he recalled. “The room fell silent and that’s when I realized every single guy in this room was gay. They were from a team called The Blades (amazing) and I had just … really f***ed up.”
Wheaton then details a conversation between him and these hockey players, “‘Do you have any gay friends?’ One of them asked me, gently. ‘Yes,’ I said, defensively. Then, I lied, ‘they say that all the time.'”
“I was so embarrassed and horrified. I realized I had basically said the N word, in context, and I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to disappear,” he stated. “I wanted to apologize, I wanted to beg forgiveness. But I was a stupid sixteen year-old with pride and ignorance and fear all over myself, so I lied to try and get out of it.”
Wheaton returned to the conversation, “‘They must not love themselves very much,’ he said, with quiet disappointment. Nobody said another word to me. I felt terrible. I shoved my gear into my bag and left as quickly as I could.”
“That happened over 30 years ago, and I think about it all the time. I’m mortified and embarrassed and so regretful that I said such a hurtful thing,” he wrote.
Wheaton then reiterated that he blames comedy for his own actions, “I said it out of ignorance, but I still said it, and I said it because I believed these men, who were so cool and kind and just like all the other men I played with (I was always the youngest player on the ice) were somehow less than … I guess everyone. Because that had been normalized for me by culture and comedy.”
“A *huge* part of that normalization was through entertainment that dehumanized gay men in the service of ‘jokes,’ he elaborated. “And as someone who thought jokes were great, I accepted it. I mean, nobody was making fun of *ME* that way, and I was the Main Character, so…”
Wheaton then preceded to apologize to the hockey players in his story, “I doubt very much that any of those men would be reading this today, but if so: I am so sorry. I deeply, profoundly, totally regret this.”
“I’ve spent literally my entire life since this happened making amends and doing my best to be the strongest ally I can be,” he continued. “I want to do everything I can to prevent another kid from believing the same bigotry I believed, because I was ignorant and privileged.”
Wheaton then turned his attention to Netflix and Dave Chappelle, “So this stuff that Chapelle did? That all these Cishet white men are so keen to defend? I believe them when they say that it’s not a big deal.”
“Because it’s not a big deal TO CISHET WHITE DUDES,” he said. “But for a transgender person, those ‘jokes’ normalize hateful, ignorant, bigoted behavior towards them.”
He elaborated, “Those ‘jokes’ contribute to a world where transgender people are constantly under threat of violence, because transgender people have been safely, acceptably, dehumanized. And it’s all okay, because they were dehumanized by a Black man.”
“And the disingenuous argument that it’s actually racist to hold Chapelle accountable for this? Get the f*** out of here,” he added.
Wheaton again reiterated his love for comedy and humor, “I love dark humor. I love smart, clever jokes that make us think, that challenge authority, that make powerful people uncomfortable.”
“I don’t need a lecture from some dude in wraparound sunglasses and a ‘git ‘er done’ tank top about how I don’t understand comedy and I need to stick to acting,” he asserted. “I don’t need a First Amendment lecture from someone who doesn’t understand the concept of consequences for exercising speech the government can’t legally prohibit.”
“Literally every defense of Chapelle’s ‘jokes’ centers white, cishet men and our experience at the expense of people who have to fight with every breath simply to exist in this world,” Wheaton claimed. “Literally every queer person I know (and I know a LOT) is hurt by Chapelle’s actions.”
He went on, “When literally every queer person I know says ‘this is hurtful to me’, I’m going to listen to them and support them, and not tell them why they are wrong, as so many cishet white men do.”
“If you’re inclined to disregard queer voices, especially as they relate to this specific topic, I encourage you to reflect on your choices and think about who you listen to and why,” he implored.
He then posited, “Too many of my fellow cishet white men are reducing this to some abstract intellectual exercise, which once again centers our experience at the expense of people who are genuinely threatened by the normalization of their ‘less than’ or ‘outsider’ status.”
“Thirty years ago, I centered myself and was appallingly hurtful as a result,” he added.
“I was sixteen and didn’t know any better. I still regret it,” he finally concluded. “Frankly, a whole lot of y’all who I’ve already blocked should feel the same shame about what you said TODAY that I feel for something I did three decades ago when I was sixteen and didn’t know any better. But you don’t, and that is why people like me need to keep using our voices to speak up and speak out.”
Despite Wheaton’s claim that Chappelle’s jokes “centers white, cishet men,” in his most recent comedy special for Netflix, The Closer, Chappelle said, “Any of you who ever watched me know that I have never had a problem with transgender people. If you listen to what I’m saying, clearly, my problem has always been with white people.”
“I have been arguing with the whites my entire career. And just when I thought I had you guys on the ropes you changed all the rules… ‘I’m a girl now, n***er, and you must treat me as such. Call me a girl, n****er.’ It’s annoying as f***,” he added.
In a a clip shared to his Instagram, Chappelle also stated, “It’s been said in the press that I was invited to speak to the transgender employees of Netflix and I refused. That is not true. If they had invited me I would have accepted it, although I am confused about what we would be speaking about.”
He continued, “I said what I said, and boy, I heard what you said. My God, how could I not? You said you want a safe working environment at Netflix. Well, it seems like I’m the only one that can’t go to the office anymore.”
“I want everyone in this audience to know that even though the media frames it that it’s me versus that community, that is not what it is,” he asserted. “Do not blame the LBGTQ [sic] community for any of this s***. This has nothing to do with them. It’s about corporate interests, and what I can say and what I cannot say.”
Chappelle went on to state, “For the record, and I need you to know this, everyone I know from that community has been nothing but loving and supporting, so I don’t know what all this nonsense is about.”
“To the transgender community, I am more than willing to give you an audience, but you will not summon me. I am not bending to anybody’s demands,” the comedian said. “And if you want to meet with me, I’d be more than willing to, but I have some conditions.”
He then revealed his conditions, “First of all, you cannot come if you have not watched my special from beginning to end. You must come to a place of my choosing at a time of my choosing, and thirdly, you must admit that Hannah Gadsby is not funny.”
Chappelle will headline Netflix’s Netflix Is a Joke Festival at the Hollywood Bowl with a number of friends.
Other comedians taking part in the festival include Kevin Hart, Bill Burr, John Mulaney, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, David Letterman, Amy Schumer, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin and more.
What do you make of Wil Wheaton’s comments about Dave Chappelle?