AceShowbiz - Dave Chappelle has described his critics as "oppressive." Labeled as transphobic after claiming that "gender is a fact" during his Netflix special "The Closer" back in October 2021, the 48-year-old comedian has now explained that his "biggest gripe" from the backlash from students at his alma mater of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts during a Q&A was having "artistic nuance" removed from his work.
"All the kids were screaming and yelling. I remember, I said to the kids, I go, 'Well, okay, well what do you guys think I did wrong?' And a line formed," he said. "These kids said everything about gender, and this and that and the other, but they didn't say anything about art."
"And this is my biggest gripe with this whole controversy with 'The Closer': That you cannot report on an artist's work and remove artistic nuance from his words," he continued. "It would be like if you were reading a newspaper and they say, 'Man Shot in the Face by a Six-Foot Rabbit Expected to Survive,' you'd be like, 'Oh my god,' and they never tell you it's a Bugs Bunny cartoon."
Chappelle went on to explain that he was "sincerely hurt" by the backlash as he felt the students were taking away his "freedom of artistic expression." He told Variety, "When I heard those talking points coming out of these children's faces, that really, sincerely, hurt me."
The "Sticks and Stones" star further reasoned, "Because I know those kids didn't come up with those words. I've heard those words before. The more 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're saying I can't say. It has everything to do with my right, my freedom, of artistic expression," he added. "That is valuable to me. That is not severed from me. It's worth protecting for me, and it's worth protecting for everyone else who endeavors in our noble, noble professions."