If you enjoy these cartoons, help me make more by supporting my Patreon! A pathetically small amount of money ($1! $2!) turns into a living for me when multiplied by a whole bunch of readers.
I’m about halfway through drawing a cartoon about city budgets, but the new Dave Chappelle stand up special on Netflix, which premiered six days ago, diverted me. Chappelle’s special was full of misogyny and transphobia, but the transphobia was perhaps more central to his show.
Chappelle closed the show with a long story about a transgender comedian he was, he said, close friends with (although he also said he didn’t know his friend has a daughter until after her death). It’s a sad story, and I’m sure Chappelle really did love his friend. But it was also a transparent attempt to excuse the transphobia of his show by saying “look, I have a trans friend!”
Normally I’d hesitate to do a cartoon about a stand-up special which most people won’t remember a few months from now. But the “one of my best friends” will, sadly, continue being relevant long past Chappelle’s use of it, so that seemed to justify doing the cartoon.
When I was a child, “some of my best friends are Jewish!” was already a cliché. And one that was obviously ridiculous – of course someone could both have a Jewish friend (or a Black friend, or a trans friend, etc etc) and still harbor some bigotry towards the group. It’s commonplace.
The “some of my best friends are _____” excuse implies a model of bigotry in which bigots are always overwhelmed with anger and hate towards whatever group they’re bigoted at. In this model, it’s impossible for a bigot to be nice to, or to feel fondness for, a _____, because apparently they can’t even be in a room with a ______ without trying to punch them or something.
But in real life, that’s not how it works. Bigotry isn’t limited to blind hatred; it can come out in more subtle ways. And people are full of contradictions, including the contradiction between being bigoted against ______ while still liking a particular ______, who is considered “one of the good ones.”
Think about how many misogynists nonetheless love their wives or their daughters.
Again Dave, some of us are Black, and when I was growing up in the midwest, there was never a shortage of racist white dudes to tell me about their Black friend, who gave them permission to say “nigger”. I hear you, Dave. I hear you holding up our fellow comedian Daphne Dorman as the Good Tranny, who never made Dave feel bad for being transphobic.
My character in this strip is based on Chappelle – both what he says and his appearance.
But I didn’t sweat making the drawings into a recognizable caricature of Chappelle, since this cartoon isn’t just about Chappelle. I just look at some photos of Chappelle and did the drawings, and figured however they came out is how they’re meant to be.
Which isn’t to say I didn’t work the drawings – but I worked, not on creating a resemblance to Chappelle, but on things like expressions and body language and finding ways for four drawings of a guy just standing there to not all be the same.
Incidentally, for me to get this cartoon done only six days after the premiere isn’t exactly a record for me – but it is much, much faster than I usually work. I sometimes suspect I’m the world’s slowest political cartoonist. (But I get there eventually!)
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has four panels. Each panel shows a good-looking black man with a shaved head – let’s call him, oh I’m just picking a name at random here, “Dave.” Dave is wearing a gray leather suit-style jacket buttoned over an off-white tee shirt. He speaks directly to the reader.
Dave speaks to the reader, but with his face turned a little bit to one side. His expression is interested but also a little weary.
DAVE: I had a friend who’s a transgender lady. But she wasn’t like those other transgenders.
Dave now grins, speaking more directly to us, and holding out a hand palm-up in a friendly fashion, like he’s speaking with his hands while telling a story.
DAVE: When I joked about trans women’s bodies and p******s and called them “dudes” and said “yuck,” she just laughed long and hard.
Now Dave looks annoyed, looking down a bit, as he thinks of his critics.
DAVE: She didn’t criticize me or make a fuss about “pronouns” or use made-up words like “TERF” like other transgenders do.
Dave is looking at us again, smiling, arms spread wide.
DAVE: She was a good one.
DAVE: In conclusion, I had a transgender friend, so nothing I say can ever be transphobic. Take that, transgenders!
This cartoon on Patreon