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“Sticks & Stones” Breaks New Ground with Anti-Censorship

The big joke of “Sticks & Stones” is it’s no different from what Chappelle has always done—what so many comedians before him have always done. All that has changed is the time and trends. As media continues to filter out what isn’t deemed PC in a more conscious era, Chappelle continues to not care.

Chappelle knows the threshold for tolerance is pretty low right now for just about every topic. So of course, being him, he leverages this, pressing everyone’s buttons, being downright mean to facilitate even more shock. All the while, everyone on the head end of the joke is laughing their ass off at his horrid, below-the-belt blows.

Chappelle can’t help but childishly chuckle to himself more and more throughout the show, knowing someone out there is so mad he would go there. He’s well aware how much he’s getting away with, literally running away from the audience after dropping some particularly nuclear bombs.

Still, some agree speaking ironically or with hyperbole doesn’t protect your words from causing a greater effect, regardless of the intent. This effect for some can be traumatic, painful, and socially humiliating.

This is exactly what makes “Sticks & Stones” so hilarious. Such a ballsy move to barrel backward against the grain in a highly sensitive time is adjacent to yesterday’s slapstick humor.

Minority groups and the once quietly-oppressed are beginning to attain some control of the conversation. On the flip side, it’s still radicals holding the microphones hostage, now swinging the pendulum as far in their direction as they can. They demand their view be seen and for their opinion to be held higher than those of the microphone hogs before them. And it is 100% justified, seeing as we’re talking about centuries to millenniums of muffled voices. However today, the majority in between the radicals are left without a voice.

The pendulum needs to swing further in favor of minorities and the overlooked, but censorship is not capable of solving issues so complex.

The problem with censorship is it shuts people up. Communication stops. When everyone is walking on eggshells, afraid to speak out of term, how does anyone have a meaningful conversation? How can we correct a mistake that is never made? How does anyone learn anything new about living with one another?

By bending rules, artists and comedians like Dave Chappelle break the ice for a conversation, proving to the world that even today, you can survive after saying something not everyone agrees on. With each joke or borderline trigger for some, he opens a door to a conversation for many.

Dave alludes to a tweet that cost Kevin Hart his dream gig to host the Oscars. The LGBTQ community (or “alphabet people,” as Chappelle calls them) demanded he apologize for this out-of-line joke. Kevin did the right thing for art and refused an apology. He stood by his craft and, through this stance, a tolerance for mistakes made, because in his world, of course it is outrageous to smash the queer out of a child with a dollhouse. It is scary to think imagery like that would ever be too close to home for anyone.

Hopefully we work to find a balance between consciousness and censorship. Until, then we have Chappelle to thank for swinging the pendulum back toward the middle. Even though he refuses to adhere to today’s social norms, Chappelle remains relevant because he tells deep truths and reminds us what it’s like to breathe and laugh again. To have fun with our words.

So if you haven’t seen it by now, go watch it. And it’s okay to laugh, you won’t get in trouble. It’s a timely masterpiece.

If you don’t like it, use it as an opportunity to express what is really important to you. Something important that doesn’t involve putting a muzzle on Dave Chappelle. Comedy, art, conversation—they don’t function in a censored society. They don’t want to be stifled any more than you do.

One way or another, artists will get their messages through anyway. Your time is wasted if you are attempting to silence or devalue Chappelle’s voice instead of using that time to voice your own.