Ever since the HBO documentary Leaving Neverland debuted in January, Michael Jackson’s fanbase has been split on how to properly assess his legacy in light of the allegations leveled against him. But one person who has made it perfectly clear where he stands—backlash and controversy be damned—is Dave Chappelle.
In his latest comedy special, Sticks & Stones, which premiered on Netflix on Monday, the 46-year-old comedian licked more than a few shots at Jackson’s accusers, R. Kelly, the #MeToo movement and other topics that most others would shy away from, according to Entertainment Weekly.
On Michael Jackson:
“I do not believe these motherfuckers,” Chappelle admitted to cheers from the audience. After adding that he’s a “victim blamer,” he declared, “Even if he did it…I mean, it’s Michael Jackson. I know more than half of the people in this room have been molested in their lives, but it wasn’t no goddamn Michael Jackson, was it? This kid got his dick sucked by the king of pop…I know it seems harsh but man someone’s got to teach these kids there’s no such thing as a free trip to Hawaii. He’s going to want to look at your butthole or something.” He then went on to argue that Robson and Safechuck must by lying since Macaulay Culkin has repeatedly said the musician never assaulted him. “I’m not a pedophile, but, if I was, Macaulay Culkin is the first kid I’m fucking,” joked Chappelle.
On R. Kelly:
“R. Kelly is different,” said Chappelle. “If I’m a betting man, I’m probably putting my money on he did that shit.” He then revealed that he didn’t participate in the Surviving R. Kelly documentary because “I don’t know this nigga at all. I don’t know anything.”
On cancel culture and the #MeToo movement:
“I’m sorry, ladies, I’ve just got a fucking #MeToo headache,” he said. “It’s really fucking tough to watch what’s going on. Ladies, I said it in my last special, and I got in a lot of trouble for this, I told you you were right, but the way you’re going about it is not going to work. But I’m biased, I said it. Louis C.K. was a very good friend of mine before he died in that terrible masturbation accident…He didn’t do anything you can call the police for. I dare you to try….They ruined this nigga’s life, and now he’s coming back playing comedy clubs and they’re acting like if he’s able to do that that’s going to hurt women. What the fuck is your agenda, ladies?”
Opinions on Chappelle’s comedy special have been mixed, with some calling for the comedian to be canceled while others have come to his defense.
Among those to offer their response to Chappelle’s comedy special are James Safechuck and Wade Robson, the pair of accusers at the center of Leaving Neverland. Both of them spoke with TMZ and were diplomatic, if not honest, in their retorts.
“I’m heartbroken for all those children who look to see how they will be received when they finally find the courage to speak out about their sexual abuse,” Safechuck told TMZ. “I just want to reach out to other survivors and let them know that we can’t let this type of behavior silence us. Together we are strong.”
“He can say whatever he wants,” Robson told TMZ. “It reveals him, not us.”
Robson’s lawyer, Vince Finaldi, added his own two cents: “Although Mr. Chappelle is entitled to his opinions, however misinformed they may be, it’s unfortunate that he has chosen to use his platform to shame sexual abuse victims, and spread his ignorance of sexual abuse and the way it is perpetrated upon children, in an attempt to resurrect his career. Mr. Chappelle should look to fellow comedian Hannibal Buress, who instead used his platform as a mode of social change, by addressing the injustice of Bill Cosby’s alleged sexual abuse of many women head-on when no other comedian would, as an example of positive work done from a place of intestinal fortitude.”
In comedy, there’s a thin line between entertainment and offense and, as Chappelle has proven time and time again, it’s a line he’ll continue to cross with no reservations.