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June 21, 2022
Dave Chappelle Takes Name Off High School Theater, Has Better Idea, and Gives Lesson in Artistic Expression
Dave Chappelle will no longer have the theatre at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC, named after him. Chappelle had a better idea and wants the theatre named the "Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression."
It was a long, silly journey to how we arrived here. Dave Chappelle released a Netflix special called The Closer, during which he punched up at the powerful LGBTQ+ lobby and corporate media. In turn, corporate media and the LGBTQ+ lobby punched down at the lone comedian and smeared him as a "transphobe." Two students at the school were manipulated by that and got a November 2021 fundraiser with the comedian canceled.
Dave laid down a challenge: Let his supporters and haters donate to the school, and if more haters donated the theater wouldn't be named after him. Turns out his haters are cheap losers, his fans won, and yesterday was supposed to be the naming ceremony.
A Washington Post reporter was in attendance and live-tweeted the event. Chappelle didn't blame the students for the controversy, saying the kids "didn’t understand that they were instruments of oppression.”
Dave felt his Netflix special was unfairly portrayed in the press, “You cannot report on an artist’s work and remove artistic nuance.” He drew the comparison to reporting a large rabbit shot a man in the face but leaving out the detail it was a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Funny, because if you put the rabbit in a MAGA hat, that's exactly how media outlets like the Washington Post would report it.
After Chappelle mentioned The Closer was the most-watched Netflix special, he made his most important point, one that students at a school of arts should remember. “When you say I can’t say something, the more urgent it is for me to say it. It has nothing to do with what you are saying I can’t say. It has everything to do with my freedom of artistic expression.”
So, since he didn't want students to see his name and feel bad, and because the idea his name "will be turned into an instrument of someone else’s perceived oppression" is untenable to him, Chappelle went with the "Theater for Artistic Freedom and Expression." The irony is, because of the drama, it will still always be known as the Dave Chappelle Theater. Those words just won't be on the wall.
Mic drop, Dave Chappelle.
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