The 2023 Grammys was one for the books. Several winners made history last night. Dave Chappelle’s win, however, was one many were not rooting for.
The comedian won a Grammy for Best Comedy Album for his Netflix special The Closer. If you recall, many users on social media were not too happy with the special. It sparked outrage for featuring jokes aimed at the transgender community.
Chappelle did not attend the Grammys Premiere Ceremony to accept his award. Presenter, Babyface accepted the award on his behalf. He beat out Jim Gaffigan, Randy Rainbow, Patton Oswalt, and Louis C.K., another controversial comedian, for the award. This is Chappelle’s fourth Grammy and follows C.K.’s controversial win last year for Sincerely Louis CK.
Released in 2021, The Closer featured Chappelle making statements like “gender is a fact.” He also joked that he is “team TERF,” meaning trans-exclusionary radical feminist, while defending J.K. Rowling, who has sparked similar outrage for anti-trans tweets. The special was accused of being transphobic and sparked controversy as well as an employee walkout at Netflix. also He also received criticism from the Black LGBTQ community specifically for not acknowledging that queer and trans people are not just white while discussing racism within the LGBTQ community.
In 2022, the winner of the category was Louis C.K., who admitted to allegations of sexual misconduct in 2017. After Chappelle and C.K. were nominated for this year’s Grammys, Recording Academy CEO Harvey Mason Jr. told The Hollywood Reporter that they do not look at morality when voting for a winner. “If the voters feel like a creator deserves a nomination, they’re going to vote for them,” Mason said, addressing controversial nominees. “We’re never going to be in the business of deciding someone’s moral position or where we evaluate them to be on the scale of morality. I think our job is to evaluate the art and the quality of the art. We can make sure that all of our spaces are safe and people don’t feel threatened by anyone. But as far as the nominations or the awards, we really let the voters make that decision.”