Dave Chappelle May Help Tame Wokeness - article for the Wall Street Journal 14.10.21
There are other signs, too, that our revolution may be moving past its Terror and toward its Thermidor. This article by Peggy Noonan includes these words of hope:
The past few years I’ve held two different and opposing thoughts in my head. One is that the woke regime cannot continue forever, it is unsustainable, it will fall of attrition and exhaustion. The suppression of thought and speech, the insistence on ideology when minds and souls aren’t ideological—all this is against human nature. So it will end. The other is that I cannot think out how it ends: I can’t explain to myself what that looks like, can’t translate what I believe to be inevitable into a story I can believe.
But the past week left me wondering if we aren’t inching toward Thermidor.
Thermidor was the moment France began to turn away from the violence and mayhem of the Terror that followed the French Revolution. (In this space the woke regime is the Terror; the French Revolution is something that’s been rolling over us and attempting to gain electoral traction since 2008. We have mixed feelings on the Revolution, but we hate the Terror.)
Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix special debuted Oct. 5. In it he was, as is his way, avowedly antiwoke, especially on gender issues including the LGBTQ movement, which he has called “the Alphabet people.” He knew he’d get in trouble. He has in the past. “They dragged me on Twitter. I don’t give a [blank] because Twitter’s not a real place.” The special is a hit, and he seemed comfortable because he knows he is talking to regular people, not ideologues. The past week he has been castigated by LGBTQ activists inside and outside the company, and by social-media mobs.
Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos pushed back. The special won’t be pulled: “Chappelle is one of the most popular standup comedians today,” Mr. Sarandos wrote in a memo. “His last special . . ., also controversial, is our most watched, stickiest and most award-winning standup special to date.” The mob pushed back: Mr. Chappelle makes them feel unsafe. Mr. Sarandos doubled down. Next week Netflix employees and their allies plan a walkout.
It would have been more powerful and certainly less crass if Mr. Sarandos had hit harder, had hit solely, on the issue of artistic freedom, and not profit.
But he did push back. If he stands firm it will be progress: Free speech won and the mob lost.
In truth some people are probably too big to cancel—Mr. Chappelle is one, J.K. Rowling another. But standing firm helps those who aren’t too big—who know, for instance, that they’d be sacrificed by their employer in a nanosecond if trouble starts and the Twitter mobs come.
But if the too-big-to-cancel grow in number and regularly start to avoid the guillotine, that becomes a story.
Maybe in time the crowds that show up to cheer the blood being spilled (in the Place de la Concorde then, on Twitter now) will become less interested in that than in seeing who wins, the woke executioners or the swift prisoner who leaps from the tumbrel and escapes into the crowd. The whole event changes from the fun of a death to the fun of a race. Progress!
For the full article in pdf, please click here:
Dave Chappelle performs onstage for his special, ‘The Closer.’
Photo: Mathieu Bitton/Netflix