Dave Chappelle’s transphobic Netflix special The Closer has been nominated for a 2022 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety Special (pre-recorded). Stan Lathan, director of the controversial comedy event, has also received a nod for Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special.
This is Chappelle’s 12th Emmy nomination. He’s won five times: in 2017 and 2021 for guest appearances on SNL, plus Outstanding Variety Special wins for his specials Equanimity and Sticks and Stones, with the latter also earning a trophy for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special.
With that kind of pedigree, you might Chappelle to be a heavy favorite in the category, but his popularity has taken a hit following the release of The Closer. In his latest special, Chappelle defended J.K. Rowling and other Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs), saying, “They look at trans women the way we Blacks might look at Blackface.” He also seemed to confuse gender identity — a person’s individual sense of themselves as a man, woman, nonbinary, or other — and biological sex, saying, “Gender is a fact. Every human being in this room, every human being on Earth, had to pass through the legs of a woman to be on Earth. That is a fact.”
The special was widely criticized. GLAAD wrote in a statement, “Dave Chappelle’s brand has become synonymous with ridiculing trans people and other marginalized communities. Negative reviews and viewers loudly condemning his latest special is a message to the industry that audiences don’t support platforming anti-LGBTQ diatribes. We agree.”
The National Black Justice Coalition added, “With 2021 on track to be the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the United States — the majority of whom are Black transgender people — Netflix should know better. Perpetuating transphobia perpetuates violence. Netflix should immediately pull The Closer from its platform and directly apologize to the transgender community.”
The special also caused a huge controversy at Netflix. A trans employee, B. Pagels-Minor, staged a Netflix walkout in protest of the company’s decision to platform Chappelle. They were subsequently fired, with Netflix accusing Pagels-Minor of leaking confidential information to the press, including how much they paid for the special (reportedly, $24.1 million) and the total viewership (about 10 million). Pagels-Minor denies sharing this information.
Chappelle has also been chastised by his fellow Emmy nominees. Jerrod Carmichael, who’s work on SNL and comedy special Rothaniel earned a total of three Grammy nominations, has called Chappelle’s transphobia “an odd hill to die on.”
For Outstanding Variety Special (pre-recorded), Chappelle will face off against Adele: One Night Only, Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts, Norm Macdonald: Nothing Special, and One Last Time: An Evening with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga. The Primetime Emmy Awards will be held Monday, September 12th, 2022. Check out the full list of nominees here.
In recent months, Chappelle’s old high school attempted to rename their theater in his honor, but students objected, calling him a “bigot,” and leading Chappelle to decline the honor. Last month, he bought some of the Ohio land where he had previously helped nix an affordable housing development, and last week he guested on Killer Mike’s new song, “RUN.”