Political Correctness, Joke Construction and The Beavis And Butthead Reflex
Having grown up in a very conservative, white household by people from rural Alberta and Montana in mostly suburban British Columbia, Canada as a visibly physically disabled guy, issues of race, gender and sexual orientation have always been at the forefront of everything. Not because I struggled with any of these things, but because they were always issues discussed at family dinners growing up and at church services.
The Beavis and Butthead Reflex can be easily defined as the sudden urge to take everything out of context and intentionally mishear or misread someone.
In a previous HBO special, Mr. Chappelle spelled out where his transgender jokes come from. But the fact that he even had to do that is not a good sign. Many of Dave's jokes in the past have centred around race and that theme spills into his transgender jokes. The problem for Dave, beyond the fact that the audience sees comedy as an excuse to completely disengage their brains, is that while he's rightly regarded as one of the best comedians of our time, he's not quite on the level of the people on the Mount Rushmore of Comedy, like George Carlin and Richard Pryor. Not yet, anyway.
Case in point. In his 1990 HBO Special, "Doin' It Again" from New Jersey, George does a bit (seen above) on the subject of sexual assault. George touches on a very serious issue, starting by telling jokes similar to what Dave would do today. But unlike Dave, George steered the conversation where it belonged - how people always blame such things on women. Whenever a woman is assaulted, some people want to make the conversation about what she was wearing, for example and whether or not she might have "asked for it."
Dave is excellent at the preliminary part of the overall monologue on such issues. He hits you with the obvious jokes about transgender people. But except for one special, which I believe was Sticks and Stones, he never actually gets to his point, which is that black people still don't have equality in America in 2023 and even when one of them is murdered, whether by a cop or some white person, the media are always trying to establish that the guy had it coming, as if selling individual cigarettes because you're broke suddenly justifies capital punishment without trial. George would have made that the emphasis of his monologue. Clarity may be partly the issue here.
Having said that, I'm not letting these Beavis and Butthead types off the hook either. You never cared when I was getting called Gimp on the street on a daily basis, so I struggle to ascertain whether you really care about these issues at all, or if it's really all about you. Damon Wayans is the one able-bodied comedian I've seen with the courage to include me in his jokes, and he did it intelligently.
Let's be serious. Most of the people who are uncomfortable with these kinds of jokes are people who want to be outraged on my behalf. I don't need you to be angry for me, because it's not about me. It's about you. You're just using me like you want to use transgender people, to improve your social status. They don't need you to be their bodyguard and I don't either - unless there are direct threats of violence.
Yes, bullying is wrong and needs to be stopped. But I'll ask for your help in doing that when you figure out the difference between Blazing Saddles and Birth of A Nation.