Joe Rogan Weighs in on Transphobia Controversy Surrounding Dave Chappelle’s Netflix Special

Rogan, a friend of fellow comic Dave Chappelle, spoke at length about the pushback the special has received during the latest episode of his podcast.

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In the latest episode of his Spotify podcast, comedian Joe Rogan gave his take on the ongoing controversy surrounding Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix special The Closer.

Speaking with guest Michael Malice, Rogan—who’s recently popped up in a number of headlines regarding the COVID-19 vaccine (that we’ll again note here is free, safe, and easy to get)—said he and Chappelle have spoken “a little bit” via text about the reactions to his new special.

“He’s just, you know, riding out the storm,” Rogan said. “He’s not a homophobic or transphobic person. He makes fun of himself. There’s a bit in that special about him getting molested and jerking off on a man’s face or cumming in a man’s face. Look, it’s fun. It’s just making jokes. That doesn’t mean hate. This is the problem with today: if you don’t have an enemy, you make an enemy. And this is a real problem with people. We look for things.”

Among the key moments from The Closer that have been called out are Chappelle’s remarks on author J.K. Rowling, who’s also been criticized in recent years for comments many considered transphobic. “I’m team TERF,” Chappelle said in the special. “TERF” is an acronym used to reference a trans-exclusionary variety of feminist.

Going deeper on his thoughts on Chappelle’s special, as well as Chappelle’s personal views, Rogan said Tuesday that people have started “equating jokes with real feelings” while they look for “equilibrium” in what to be upset about.

“These ideas that you can’t make fun of are dangerous,” he said. “They’re not good for anybody. They’re not good for the people who hold those ideas. Whether it’s about who you are or what you do, the idea that no fun can be had about any of this is crazy because the idea is that then all fun is done maliciously and out of hate. And we know as friends that is just not true.”

Rogan added that there’s “fun in making fun of each other and we have to accept that,” though—separately—he also pointed to the need to know a person’s “real feelings” about the issues.

“If you get down to Dave Chappelle’s real feelings, he’s a lovely person,” Rogan said. “He’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met in my life. He loves everybody. He’s not a hateful soul. He’s beyond jealous. He’s just a guy who loves this art form called stand-up comedy and he tries to do his best navigating this world of talking shit about things and saying outrageous things that get huge laughs, or placating really sensitive groups that feel like they’re in a protected class and then the other people that pile onto that, that also feel like this is a protected class. They equate any jokes with hate and this is where they’re wrong.”

Elsewhere, Rogan backed the idea that the near-constant coverage of the pushback against the special is only boosting its popularity, calling it a “journalistic version” of the Streisand effect. He also referenced calls for the special to be completely removed from Netflix, stating he believes that’s an “incorrect way” to respond to the content.

“If you wanna make your own special about what was wrong with Dave Chappelle’s special, go for it,” Rogan said toward the end of the podcast clip up top. “And good luck to you. Maybe you’ll have a point that that person that you’re criticizing can take into consideration and go, ‘Maybe I can do better at this.’”

Among those who shared public criticism regarding The Closer was the Trevor Project’s Director of Advocacy and Government Affairs, Preston Mitchum. Writing for theGrio, Mitchum noted Chappelle’s jokes “do not impact hypothetical people” but, in fact, have what he described as the potential to spur “real harm” among people who may have previously considered the comedian a role model.

“I have witnessed firsthand how anti-LGBTQ rhetoric like Chappelle’s can harm one’s sense of self and exacerbate mental health challenges,” Mitchum said. “And as a Black queer person who has deeply struggled in navigating the intersections of my identity, none of this is funny to me at all.”

Ahead of a planned walkout at Netflix on Wednesday, per the Verge, the trans employee resource group at the streamer has released a list of demands for the company moving forward. Notably, none of the demands include mentions of the special being taken down or otherwise removed.

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