By now, if you’ve been paying, you may have heard the controversy over Dave Chappelle’s Netflix comedy show, “Sticks and Stones”. If you haven’t you should first watch the show and then look up all the commentary.
From the title to the content and from beginning to end that one comedy show exposes the sad state of the American psyche and American culture today. Take the title for instance. If you’re old enough you’ll remember the old saying of, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names can never hurt me.” This saying was a parent’s response to teach a kid that words are just what they are… words. Just because someone calls you names doesn’t mean you are the names that they call you. Maybe it was a lame retort but it did teach children that there will always be people that try to define you and it’s up to you to ignore that crap and define yourself.
It was also a way to teach kids that using violence in the face of criticism of any kind is not a proper response. So many kids would lash out violently when called certain names (Could I be talking about myself here? Hmmm.) that they needed to be taught to have a tougher skin. Words might hurt your feelings but they do not actually cause you physical harm. It’s appropriate to defend yourself with other words and not your fist.
This brings me back to Dave Chappelle’s comedy show on Netflix. He finds the humor in everything. Nothing is safe. If you’ve grown up being protected from “offensive” thoughts and you watch this you may want to curl up into the fetal position or lash out at Chappelle. But you need to watch it to toughen up your skin. These are just words. Dave Chappelle has no power to do anything to you other than make you laugh. Sometimes at others and sometimes at our own hypocrisy.
One of the best bits of social commentary came when he was talking about guns. In a nutshell he said that nothing will happen with the laws in the United States over guns until every African American signs up and obtains a legal firearm. Then and only then will the government rise up to make laws to restrict ownership or take them away outright. The joke being that everyone is afraid of a black person with a gun, legal or otherwise. Regardless of what you think of guns the way this message is delivered is genius and hilarious. When he delivers the line you both laugh and go, “Hmmmm, crap he’s probably right!”
Chappelle’s “Sticks and Stones” was not right or left leaning comedy show. It was squarely down the middle and eviscerating everything we think of ourselves. Watch it!