Dave Chapelle

@mostlyokay_mostly/TikTok Featureflash Photo Agency/ShutterStock (Licensed)

A sexist Dave Chappelle audio clip is gaining steam on TikTok

The context of the clip is much darker than the more or less trivial situations for which TikTokers are using it.


Tricia Crimmins


Posted on Feb 21, 2024   Updated on Feb 26, 2024, 9:44 am CST

In each edition of web_crawlr we have exclusive original content every day. On Tuesdays our IRL Reporter Tricia Crimmins breaks down the trends on the popular app that will make you cringe in her “Problematic on TikTok” column.  If you want to read columns like this before everyone else, subscribe to web_crawlr to get your daily scoop of internet culture delivered straight to your inbox.

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Just as Dave Chappelle lurks on the fringes of mainstream comedy and entertainment, an upsetting audio clip of his stand-up emerges on the fringes of TikTok.

A nine-second interval of Chappelle talking about believing someone accused of something is picking up steam on TikTok.

“I don’t think he did it,” Chappelle says. “But you know what? Even if he did do it, you know what I mean?”

The clip’s ambiguity makes sense: The vaguer an audio clip is, the better chance it has of going viral because it can be applied to other situations.

TikTokers have applied it to favoritism in classrooms, coworkers allying with each other against their office enemy, going easy on a messy pet, and defending a favorite athlete against allegations of steroid use.  

But the context of the clip is much darker than the more or less trivial situations for which TikTokers are using it.

In his 2019 Netflix comedy special, Sticks and Stones, Chappelle says that he doesn’t believe that Chris Brown physically assaulted Rihanna and that her actions might have provoked the assault; and that children who say Michael Jackson molested them might have been asking for it because of what they were wearing.

In conclusion, he says that he doesn’t believe either man committed the crime of which they are accused and makes some very upsetting comments about both of their victims.

Why it matters

Chappelle’s comments about victims of childhood molestation and domestic violence in Sticks and Stones are abhorrent. But using the nine-second audio on TikTok doesn’t mean a TikToker agrees with what he said.

It is, though, important to be aware of where the media we engage with online comes from. I’ve written in this column before about TikTokers (presumably unknowingly) using a trending Tori Lanez audio, and emphasized that when we platform even the most watered-down versions of artists or figures, we are still giving them a platform.

So, keep an eye on the materials that spawn TikTok audios and trends—they may not be aligned with your values. 

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*First Published: Feb 21, 2024, 6:00 am CST

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