Skip to comments.Dave Chappelle vs. Jesse Jackson
Posted on 02/17/2005 3:52:47 PM PST by TwoDragons
Aside from a new $50 million contract, what does Dave Chappelle have that Jesse Jackson does not? The answer, Mr. Jackson will regret hearing, is a reason for black youth to value his opinion.
Since "Chappelle's Show" debuted two years ago, the comedian has become a ubiquitous American pop presence. Known for skits that regularly break comedic boundaries, Chappelle, like his thematic predecessor Chris Rock, is celebrated for lampooning any subject, regardless of its position in the sphere of P.C. protection. Whites, blacks, Asians, George Bush, Bill Clinton, even Kunta Kinte -- nothing's considered sacred.
So-called "black leaders" have been mostly mum on Chappelle's rise. Clearly, he has placed them in the awkward bind of having either to celebrate another black success story, or, condemn his affection for using the n-word and otherwise not considering black culture beyond reproach.
"I look at it like the 'nigger' used to be a word of oppression," explains Chappelle. "But that when I say it, it feels more like an act of freedom for me to be able to say that unapologetically on television."
Ban the N-Word, a black activist group, is, predictably, unimpressed.
"The Chappelle's Show Season One DVD uses the N-word over 100 times," they told me. "That's more than enough already, but, unfortunately, that's still only part of the problem. His sketches routinely highlight blacks negatively and the punchline is always an insult to blacks."
Chappelle's attitude toward race issues seems to be that while lingering forms of racism exist, they serve more realistically as fodder for comedians than as reasons for social revolution.
He says, "I still think people do have racial hang-ups, but I think one of the reasons I can joke about it is people are shedding those racial hatreds." It's hard to picture him rehashing the Jackson-Sharpton refrain that racist America anchors the potential of black youth.
As a comic, Dave Chappelle is not bound by the fetters that constrain and control other prominent figures. The traditional black empowerment movement, on the other hand, is so fossilized that competing facts or revelations are ignored. As Jesse Jackson and company are the de facto African-America government handout lobbying alliance, their business booms when (and if) conditions worsen. Thus, the movement sadly amounts to a doctrine of victimization.
At some point even the most ardent Jackson acolyte must realize that people cannot build a future based on failure. Under the current malady-for-profit stratagem, the payoff comes from a race to the bottom, profiting off vices, not virtues. This reality is masked by the virulence of many black leaders' rhetoric. To listen to Jesse Jackson, one gathers that black America is fighting for its life, fending off a Caucasian racial offensive.
Just consider what Jackson has said this past year: He's called the Bush administration's distribution of a medicine with uncertain side effects to AIDs-inflicted, pregnant Africans a "crime against humanit;" he's accused Republicans of endeavoring to disenfranchise black voters in Ohio and likewise conspiring with the Supreme Court to do the same in the 2000 election; and he's accused institutions such as Wal-Mart and the NCAA of racism.
Even if Jackson succeeds occasionally in diagnosing a case of actual racism, his prescriptions fail utterly. Reparations, lawsuits, clampdowns on "insensitive" speech, and government handouts rarely solve anything. No matter: Jackson insists that blacks should be rewarded for the suffering of their forefathers; blacks shouldn't have to perform as well to get into college; nor should blacks feel badly or even responsible about being disproportionately represented in prison populations -- because, of course, society is racist, the system is corrupt.
Fortunately, not everyone has the luxury to wait for government to make them rich. Some simply do it themselves. After all, in the wealthiest country in the world, there is every incentive to bump elbows and, to use hip-hop lexicon, chase that coin.
At the end of every episode of "Chappelle's Show" the host is pictured, hands chained together and with large folds of money in each; the voiceover yells, "I'm rich, b---h!" I take this to mean that he's thrown himself into corporate America's game --and its rules, hence the shackles -- but his smug smile and his handfuls of $100 bills suggest he's happy things have worked out. (A true capitalist, he is the only person to do ads for both Coke and Pepsi.) Incidentally, the "rich b---h!" voiceover comes from the segment in which Chappelle, as a white-faced newscaster, describes the scene the day black America is given a trillion dollars in reparations checks.
This skit, like many of his others, uses comedy to bring attention to the blights of black communities.
Upon receiving the checks, there are long lines at liquor stores; Cadillac Escalades, gold and "chicken" are, according to the Wall Street correspondent, posting huge gains. Chappelle is making an unsubtle point that a powerful current in black culture glorifies transient material gains over long-term financial savings and security.
Self-criticism, according to Martin Luther King Jr., is the "highest form of maturity." Yet few of today's prominent black leaders are capable of conceding blacks are doing anything wrong. The victim, according to the doctrine, cannot, by definition, bear responsibility for his indentured status. As such, comedians like Chappelle and Chris Rock, and lonely voices like Bill Cosby's, must pick up the responsibility for being honest brokers, communicating the realities of black communities.
Chappelle's criticisms are balanced through the promotion of positive talents. This is seen primarily in his choice of musical acts. Rather than bow at the altar of pop orthodoxy, he selects hip-hop acts renowned for their innate talents as emcees, lyricists, musicians and live performers. Rather than the gun-toting bubblegum rap of MTV -- Jadakiss, Nelly, Lil Jon -- viewers are treated to more thoughtful and more musical acts, like Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Questlove (of The Roots), Common, and Erykah Badu.
When you watch Dave Chappelle, his strong values shine forth. In his recent Showtime special, "For What It's Worth," he relays the positive message he tells students when he speaks at inner-city high school graduations.
The message is: "You have to work hard, study, stay focused ... or learn how to play basketball or rap or some sh-t!"
It is striking that in the year 2005, Chappelle's honest, hard-hitting comedy remains a more reliable window into the pros, cons, ups and downs, possibilities and hindrances of black communities than black leadership in Washington.
Tom Elliott is an editor for the The New York Sun editorial page.
He's funny. A few weeks ago he went driving with Wayne Brady and it was one of the funniest things I've ever seen.
All I know is that the blind, black KKK member is one of the funniest characters ever.
Actually he has failed to really bash Bush, IMO. He's had one skit that I can really remeber that was titled "Black Bush" that showed what Bush would have said had he been black, it was pretty funny I thought. The other time I can remeber that he brought Bush up was when he did a skit that was 2 minutes long that took him like all the time to get on stage and when he did he said, "Wanna know what I think of Bush? Wanna know what I think of the war in Iraq?" and the buzzer went off to end the skit.
The black white supremecist, and the Wayne Brady "Training Day" are fantastic.
My two favorite are "Wu Tang" financial and the one where he imagines himself as a juror on all of the high profile trials. He's a genius.
Those were his 2 best sketches, bar none.
"Is wayne brady gonna have to choke a b**ch"?
I don't know, the "wrap it up" and "ribs" scetches were pretty good, and the FearFactor one where he has the crack addict go on was good too...
Wayne Brady's sketch was classic.
Sometimes, I regret not owning a television set.
I bet if you look on a P2P network you can find it. :)
The charlie Murphy stories about Rick James and Prince are pretty funny. Check out his Little Jon audio clips.
Even better was the White Family with the last name "Niggar."
"I had to divorce my wife..., she was a nigger lover"
Bwaaa haaa haaaa haaa haaaaaaaa!!
That was hilarious. I also loved the racist animals of Hollywood past.
I watch Chappelle religiously (I am white, not that that really makes any difference) and the Wayne Brady skit is definitely one of his best, along with Blackzilla, the Prince basketball skit and Charley Murphy's (Eddie's brother) bits about Rick James. Chappelle is most definitely irreverent, but he really tells it like he sees it. The skit he did on what it would be like if "W" was black is hilarious, but absolutely dead on. I would recommend that FReepers take a look at the show - it is really quite amusing.
Don't forget the instant classic "Niggar Family!"
"Oh those Niggars"
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