Editor’s Note: Whether on screen or off, Hollywood can always be counted on to keep us entertained. This is especially true when it comes to politics. Join us each week as we shine the spotlight on Tinseltown’s A-listers and their whacky and sometimes inspiring takes on today’s current events.
Netflix Backs Dave Chappelle
Comedian Dave Chappelle’s new show, The Closer, debuted on Netflix last Tuesday, Oct. 5, and has trans people around the globe up in arms. First, he defended best-selling novelist J.K. Rowling, who has been accused of being a TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist), saying, “They canceled J.K. Rowling – my God. Effectually she said gender was a fact, the trans community got mad as sh–, they started calling her a TERF.” He then declared himself “Team TERF.”
The 48-year-old star continued: “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.” The genitalia of trans women, Chappelle said, is “not what it is.” The Daily Mail reported that “Chappelle also jokes that women today view transwomen the same way black people might view white women wearing blackface, and remarked that women are entitled to feel anger toward transwomen, since Caitlyn Jenner won Glamour magazine’s 2015 Woman of the Year award.” Chappelle said, “I’d be mad as sh—if I was a woman.”
The LGBTQ and trans communities were distraught, including employees of Netflix such as Dear White People’s executive producer Jaclyn Moore, who said she is “done” with his show. Terra Field, a trans person and Netflix programmer, responded:
“Yesterday we launched another Chappelle special where he attacks the trans community, and the very validity of transness – all while trying to pit us against other marginalized groups. You’re going to hear a lot of talk about ‘offense.’ We are not offended.”
In a statement on Twitter, David J. Johns, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition, said, “It is deeply disappointing that Netflix allowed Dave Chappelle’s lazy and hostile transphobia and homophobia to air on its platform.”
Netflix, however, backed the comedian. Co-CEO Ted Sarandos sent an internal email, explaining:
“You should also be aware that some talent may join third parties in asking us to remove the show in the coming days, which we are not going to do. Several of you have also asked where we draw the line on hate. We don’t allow titles on Netflix that are designed to incite hate or violence, and we don’t believe The Closer crosses that line. I recognize, however, that distinguishing between commentary and harm is hard, especially with stand-up comedy which exists to push boundaries. Some people find the art of stand-up to be mean spirited but our members enjoy it, and it’s an important part of our content offering.”
Rumors surfaced that three employees, including Field, who tweeted against Chappelle, were suspended in retaliation. However, the Netflix employees were suspended after trying to push their way into a director-level meeting uninvited.
Superman Is Gay
While we’re on the subject of gender and sexuality wokeness, Twitter folks don’t seem too thrilled that the new Superman is bisexual. Clark Kent and Lois Lane’s son, Jonathan Kent, will be the new man of steel who will share a kiss with Jay Nakamura, a journalist who has his own superpowers. “The idea of replacing Clark Kent with another straight white savior felt like a missed opportunity,” Tom Taylor, who writes the series, told The New York Times.
He continued: “I’ve always said everyone needs heroes and they deserve to see themselves in their heroes. For so many people, having the strongest superhero in comics come out is incredibly powerful.”
The new Superman will soon begin a romantic relationship with a male friend, DC Comics announced.
"The idea of replacing Clark Kent with another straight white savior felt like a missed opportunity," said Tom Taylor, who writes the series. https://t.co/nzSsfpgddr
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 11, 2021
Not everyone agrees, however, including actor Dean Cain, who played Superman in the television series Lois & Clark. He claimed the company was “bandwagoning” and refuted its hailing of the move as a “bold new direction.” Cain claimed it wasn’t “bold or brave” and that the company should focus on “fighting real evil in the world.”
“The new Captain America is gay, my daughter in [the CW series] Supergirl, where I played the father, she was gay. So I don’t think it’s bold or brave or some crazy new direction. If they had done this 20 years ago, perhaps that would have been bold or brave.
“Brave would be having him fighting for the rights of gay people in Iran where they’ll throw you off a building for the offense of being gay.”
Kamala Slammed for Hiring Child Actors
Vice President Kamala Harris was in a video to promote the wonders of space exploration, and, according to the New York Post, she gave a “memorably loopy performance alongside a quintet of child actors who auditioned for their roles.”
The five children had to submit monologues and three questions to ask a world leader. The video was shot Aug. 11-13 at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington at the same time the Taliban was taking over Afghanistan and the U.S. border crisis was escalating. The Post remarked that “[c]ritics suggested that the video was the latest example of Harris having difficulty connecting with interlocutors – whether attempting a jokey response to a question about the southern border from NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt, or lauding a college student who accused Israel of ‘ethnic genocide’ by saying she was speaking ‘her truth.’”
Tim Murtaugh, a former Donald Trump 2020 communications director, took to Twitter. “This just keeps getting better,” he wrote. “The company producing Kamala Harris’ video featuring professional child actors, which is called *Sinking Ship Entertainment* … is based in Canada.”
You can watch the episode here.
Cheers and Jeers
Sometimes, HollyWeird players make headlines for silly or bizarre happenings, so here is a collection of newsworthy doings — honorable and dishonorable — by the tenants of Tinseltown.
The Fonz Blamed for Hair Loss
In a joint memoir with his brother, Ron Howard said that The Fonz’s character (not Henry Winkler) is responsible for his sudden loss of hair during his early acting years in Happy Days. It was the character’s popularity that brought such stress to the actor, afraid that he was eclipsing Richie Cunningham. ABC even considered renaming the show “Fonzie’s Happy Days” at one point.
“It did not escape my notice that as the season went on, the Fonz was getting more and more screen time,” Howard wrote. “I didn’t handle my stress particularly well. I probably would have benefited from seeing a psychotherapist … Then I started breaking out in eczema rashes all over my body, most acutely on my eyelids … And my hair started thinning.”
Celebrities say the darndest things …
Host and commentator Ben Shapiro reacted to Netflix standing up for Dave Chappelle. He tweeted: “Netflix is Transphobic and must immediately be shut down, and these employees must be made the coaching staff of the Las Vegas Raiders.”
Actor/writer/comedian took exception to people who don’t know things: “People not knowing things is okay. It’s people not knowing things and then getting upset about not knowing things, then doubling down on not knowing things, ultimately eliminating the opportunity to actually learn things. And that’s how people stay not knowing things.”
A lawyer for Donald Trump, Jenna Ellis took a pop shot at the airlines in her Twitter post: “Next time I’m going to choose my airline based on the weather.”
Tune in next week to see what else Tinseltown has planned.
~ Read more from Kelli Ballard.