We live in an age where retroactive content from creatives is resurfacing, most likely to bite the creator of said content in the rear. In many cases, some of the content may have been said in comedic jest at a time when things may not have been as sensitive. However, the way the world is going now, “cancel culture” is here in the attempt to change all of that.
In recent years, cancel culture and the idea of “canceling” arose amidst conversations stemming from the #MeToo movement, as well as other movements that have been birthed to make issues aware to the public, as we as demand the accountability of celebrities and other influential public figures. Often used to shame, embarrass, and ultimately destroy the career of the public figures, sometimes it can be labeled “toxic.”
In his 2019 Netflix special Sticks & Stones, Dave Chapelle specifically targeted cancel culture and his frustrations with the movement, specifically how it has affected certain artists and comedians. He also took a moment to speak on the incident where Kevin Hart lost his hosting gig at the 2019 Oscars due to backlash from old homophobic tweets of his that had been dug up. “Clearly Kevin was joking,” Chappelle said regarding Hart’s tweets.
Comedian Steve Harvey, not shy of controversy himself, has also seen himself hit the spotlight recently as some past material from his older stand-up comedian days has resurfaced as well. In particular, a clip taken from his legendary performance on the Original Kings of Comedy tour has been singled out where he speaks on actor Michael Clarke Duncan’s role in the 2001 adaptation of Planet Of The Apes.
Duncan had been a guest on Harvey’s radio show to promote the film and he revealed off-air that he had been paid a whopping $10 million after a caller phoned in to criticize the actor saying, “I don’t think black people should put themselves out there like that, we need more positive role models, and you playing a [MF] gorilla.” Harvey shares on stage that he would have played the role, and then some, for less than the amount Duncan received.
“Ten million?” the comedian expresses. “For $4 million I’ll be all the [MF’ing] monkey you can stand. Black people would be so embarrassed by my [MFing] performance, you’d be sitting up there just… ‘look at this big-lipped, son of a b***h,’” he says jokingly about himself. “You ain’t got to act like that much of a m*****f***** monkey!” He then proceeds to impersonate a monkey by making the animal sounds and continues to detail the outlandish things that he would do for the sum of money, including swinging from a “vine into work.”
Comments started to pour in calling the comedian an “uncle Tom” and that he was “foreshadowing”, but a few comedians have come forward in his defense. Deon Cole, best known for his role in Black-ish, said in an interview that he remembered being at the show and hearing the joke live.
“That’s an old, old, old joke…and back then it was hilarious,” Cole said during an interview with Vlad TV. “And now they pulled up some s**t, and now… they’re trying to make a big deal. That’s another era we live in where people will not allow people to grow with the times, and it’s so sad.”
He continued, “You want to keep going back in time, looking at what MFs did, and then tryna make sure that, yo that, this is the kind of person that they are, no.” He also touched on the Kevin Hart situation as well, saying that he wished Kevin Hart hosted the Oscars.
Another popular comedian, Godfrey, also shared his opinions on Harvey’s past comments with Vlad TV, stating that he gets why Deon Cole would defend Harvey’s joke. “It makes sense that [Deon Cole] did because i totally get what Steve was doing,” states Godfrey, before going into a comedic impersonation of Harvey. “It’s a joke. I get it, ‘cause he was just talking about, ‘you know how much money that is?’ F**k that. And Steve is talking from a perspective where he hasn’t gotten that money yet. You know? And Steve is doing well, first of all, let me not get it twisted. Steve was a beast. He was one of the baddest dudes in the Black comedy circuit.”