Chappelle show back on netflix

They paid him a lot

Love Chapelle. He’s the GOAT.

I’ve never watched the Chapelle show, or any of his comedy, and I don’t know anything particular about the behind-the-scenes business dealings here, but… I gotta say this whole thing has rubbed me the wrong way. He’s acting as though just because something has his name on it he has sole and total right to make all decisions concerning it, into perpituity… like somehow he’s getting screwed if some company paid him a lot of money to make a show (which he was presumably not the sole creative force behind) but didn’t also just randomly give him full ownership of it. And presumably there were other people who worked on this show… writers, actors, producers, directors, etc. Was their well-earned income being interfered with while Dave Chapelle was basically leveraging the public to blackmail a corporation that was just doing business?

Or am I way off base here?

You’re off base. The issue wasn’t about “full ownership”, it was about getting paid at all. To quote Cheppelle:

“They (ViacomCBS) didn’t have to pay me because I signed the contract,” Chappelle said in the video. “But is that right? I found out that these people were streaming my work and they never had to ask me or they never have to tell me. Perfectly legal ‘cause I signed the contract. But is that right? I didn’t think so either.”

And nobody was getting “blackmailed”. Public pressure is a perfectly legitimate tactic, especially when power imbalances are as skewed as they are between media companies and artists.

Also, if Chappelle wasn’t getting streaming income, I doubt anyone else who worked on his show were, either.

You’re off base.

First of all, this isn’t just some job he did. It’s his name, his face, his body, his voice, his personality. Yes, other people worked on the show, but his vision and his performance made it what it is.

Second, the point he has made is basically isn’t it kind of shitty that this is the kind of world we live in, that because I signed a contract, something that is basically a representation of me, my vision, and my personality, can be exploited by some faceless corporation without my having a say.

I say, yeah, that’s a pretty good point. All he has done is asked people who are inclined to listen to him to not put more money in that corporation’s pockets. He’s just exercising his free speech to ask people to do something that relates to something important to him.

Completely legitimate in my view. No one has to listen to him. However, if they choose to, fair play to him. Why shouldn’t he use what voice and influence he has with regard to something he feels is an extension of his personality?

That’s how a lot of artists feel about their works. Just because of the way our economy is structured, they often have to sign away a lot of control in order to benefit from their work. But why should they? In general creators get screwed. Why do platforms and distributors and middle-men benefit so much from the system?

Chappelle is one of the lucky few who has managed to benefit from the system. The vast majority of creators don’t get that much benefit. The bulk of the other people who worked on the show, they don’t make another dime from further streaming of the show.

And “Just doing business,” that covers up a lot of injustice. What a low bar for justifying one’s actions.

Eh, he already got paid. And, like Ascenary said, nobody else is going to get paid again just because he will.

Chappelle’s Show was brilliant, and even if some of it is cringe-worthy now, quite a lot of it holds up. And while I’m hardly indignant about a creator strong-arming a megacorporation into handing over money, I don’t really commiserate with the whole, “it’s legal, but it’s not right” argument.

I mean, it’s kind of intuitively obvious that we all sympathize with “the little guy” against “the big faceless corporation”, not that Dave Chapelle is really “the little guy”.

But think about the same basic actions but the “little guy-ness” reversed. You’re a middle class guy with a decent retirement savings account, but hardly rich. And a friend of yours is a struggling singer-songwriter who you really think has talent. They beg you for money to make their first album, and you come up with some deal where if that album is a big hit, they’ll get a bunch of the profits initially but then you’ll own the long term royalties (for that album only). This seems fair at the time on the theory that if that album is a big hit, they’ll have a career ahead of them, plus will get a big payday, but just not an ongoing one.

So, you risk your entire life’s savings and… wonder of wonder, the album is a hit! A megahit! Their career is made, they get a big chunk of cash, and you, having bet on the right horse, are now set for life.

But, they’re a famous musician now. And you’re just a guy. And suddenly they go on twitter and tell their millions of followers how unfair it is that they don’t get any profit out of their first album, which they sweated over, yada yada yada, and tell all their fans to stop buying it until/unless you just randomly decide to cut them in on it.

Is that fair?

Now, obviously it’s not really a perfect comparison, the power dynamics are all different, yada yada yada. But unless there’s evidence that the original contract was actively exploitative or he was lied to or deceived or something, there certainly seems to be an aspect of “well, I signed a contract and got rich… but now I wish I was RICHER, so fuck the contract”.

Doesn’t seem fair to me.

And the issue isn’t just royalties, it’s also control of all redistribution.

No kidding. There was never any risk of going under for Viacom. Nor was Chappelle a struggling unknown before his eponymous show.

That’s not what he is saying. He is not saying he wishes he was richer. But someone else has all the control and gets all the benefit. But every time that thing is streamed it’s his face and his reputation on the line. Maybe he would rather it not be streamed. But regardless it’s a weird situation but one that most people in the world have just accepted it. Why just accept it?

when Seinfeld went to DVD the other actors were not getting paid so they did not promote the DVDs . they eventually got paid for DVD sales.

Prior to around mid 60s actors did not get any additional money for reruns. they do now get paid for reruns

Taking a step back, I see a couple of issues here:
(1) Is it the case that an entertainment product that prominently features a single person’s name/persona/whatever should be “owned” by that person more than if it didn’t, just because? If Bob (a producer) and Dave (a performer) collaborate on a show, and each works equally hard and contributes equally to its success, should it matter whether it’s called “Here’s Dave!” vs “Big Wednesday Laugh Factory”? Frankly, I don’t think it matters. Jon Stewart doesn’t automatically own The Daily Show with Jon Stewart just because he was the host and face of the show. This type of “it’s my face” thing might be relevant if, say, whoever owned the show started associating it with a particular political movement, or something else which implied something about the performer, but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.

(2) To what extent does was the contract Chapelle signed “unfair”? Is it always “unfair” or unethical or a screw job if a performer ends up not getting some ongoing payment? Is there a sufficiently large lump sum I can pay you which makes it totally fair and ethical that I own 100% of the product of your effort into perpituity, forever, no matter what? Or is it the case that any negotiation between a massive corporation and a single individual should always, by default, be assumed to be unfair in the corporation’s favor? (And I don’t know a ton about Chapelle’s career, but presumably he had competent legal/professional representation when the show was being created.)

(3) To what extent is it reasonable to air gripes about business deals on social media, and what will that result in? For instance, it might well be the case that the deal that Chapelle and the corp had signed was, by any objective measure, utterly fair. But if Chapelle gets on his bully pulpit and starts saying it was unfair, what response is there? Certainly if the corp got on social media and started trying to tell their side of the story, they’d just come of looking like utter clods. How will future negotiations setting up deals between a corp and a person with a potentially big social media presence go, if the corp knows that the person will have the power to go on social media and present their side of the situation, with basically no real way to respond?

(4) To what extent should we judge “here’s a conflict going on between party A and party B… who do we think is in the right?” based on which of those parties are faceless corporations vs charismatic beloved individual people? I mean, presumably it’s at least theoretically possible for a corporation to be treating an individual utterly fairly and ethically. It must happen on occasion.

Again, I don’t really have a position on the current situation. I don’t know any of the details. I don’t know how good a deal Chapelle got in the first place, the extent to which the negotiations were ethical, the extent to which he was treated well by the studio during the run of the show, yada yada yada. But I do think that “hey, I like Chapelle, he’s tweeting that he was treated unfairly, it’s automatically unfair that he no longer gets royalties from HIS show… yay, he won, the good guy triumphed!!!” is a reductively simple view of the situation. And the “little guy” who gets screwed and overlooked in Hollywood certainly isn’t Dave Chapelle…

Firstly, can we get one thing right? It’s Chappelle.

Yes. Because the name and face is the resale value.

Jon Stewart doesn’t own The Daily Show, but I damn well hopes he gets paid when the ones with him in it and his name prominent on the title are run in syndication.

It was unfair in that it didn’t apply the normal, expected rules for residuals to new platforms, mostly.

You presume a lot. As far as I can see, artists get screwed over by their representation all the time. And Chappelle has said at the time he was broke, an expecting father and desperate.

It’s perfectly reasonable. Closed door Star Chambers only profit the powerful.

I bet you oppose publicizing salaries at work, as well…

He received zero residuals for streaming. There is no way it was fair.

Legal =/= fair.

Because they are.

Compare how Netflix has reacted now, to how Viacom did initially. That’s the response - be fair to your talent.

More fairly? And it’s not like corporations have “no real way to respond” - they have entire teams of social media staff.

But they can’t magic up being in the right when they’re clearly, obviously not.

A large one? Not always (see - Carano, Gina v. Disney), but often, yes. Especially when it just comes down to money and personal identity. People should be in control of their own personal identities, not corporations.

They paid him some amount of money when he worked there. Is there no amount of money they might have paid him to make it “fair” to not continue to pay him? Why?

This seems to be the crux of the disagreement here… you seem to think that it’s automatically the case that any deal which does not involve ongoing royalties as the product is rereleased or put on new platforms or whatever is, automatically, by definition, unfair.

If we’re setting up a deal, and you offer me two choices: $100K now plus 5% of ongoing royalties, or $500K now, and 0 royalties, and I take the 500K, do I have any right to complain later on that I was treated unfairly? I mean, maybe, if you deliberately concealed or misrepresented information about future plans or prospects – and there’s an interesting discussion to be had about situations where I’m particular in need of money and you know that and that affects the negotiations. But if I take a larger up front payment and no royalties I certainly don’t have the right to complain later if the show succeeds beyond my wildest dreams and I clearly should have made the other choice.

Again, I don’t know the details of the original negotiations between Chappelle and whatever production company he was negotiating with. It’s entirely possible that his position is reasonable. I just don’t think it’s automatically reasonable, purely based on some principle of “everyone should always get royalties for everything, period”.

“They’re using my face and they’re not continuing to pay me! It’s an outrage!” is not, to me, automatically an outrage.

No, there is no amount of money I would consider fair to sell away all rights to all future copies of one’s self-image. Obviously, some artists do have an amount of money they would do that for.

I don’t think you understand my fundamental problem with the unfairness here - it’s that when a new medium came out, the corporation didn’t come back to him and say “Hey, we want to stream this, let’s do a deal”, they went “Whelp, not covered in your 20yo contract, so we’re good here” That’s fundamentally unfair.

His position is that artists are universally treated badly by the Hollywood system, especially younger artists. He’s using his bully pulpit to ask people who value his opinion to use their “feet” to vote. I see nothing untoward or unseemly about that position.

He has fully acknowledged that he has signed a contract and under the law, the corporation is doing what it is permitted to do. But he also is questioning why that should be the baseline for how people are treated in the system.

The corporation is welcome to use its corporate voice to argue its perspective. That would be bad for its image, one might say? Maybe that’s an indication of what public sentiment is on the matter.

And this is an area in which rich, successful participants in a business can exercise their influence in a way that the teeming millions cannot.

Here’s what he has to say – Netflix Removes 'Chappelle's Show' After Dave Chappelle Requested It : NPR

“[Netflix] went above and beyond what you could expect from a businessman.”

(So, he is acknowledging that he is asking more than is usually expected from a business operation.)

Chappelle’s quarrel is not a legal one — he acknowledges he signed the contract with Comedy Central. But Chappelle said he was then 28, broke and expecting a child.

“Perfectly legal,” he said. “But is that right? I didn’t think so either.”

(So here, he’s suggesting that he is arguing that that traditional assumptions of business-as-usual should be re-examined by society as a whole.)

“I’m not up here trying to tell you guys that I believe that Comedy Central gave me a raw deal just because I’m Black,” he said. “I believe that they gave me a raw deal, because this f***ing industry is a monster.”
We all know that Hollywood is a shady businss. The books are cooked to show that no production ever turns a profit, thus denying people will shares of net profits any return. At the same time, executives and shareholders make out like bandits, so we know that there is plenty of money flowing into the system.

And along with every other American industry, executive and shareholder compensation has skyrocketed over the last 50 years, while line workers have had stagnant wages.

So, if you want to advocate for the other people who worked on Chappelle’s production, I would say, look to the corporate masters, not to Chappelle, for any unfairness happening to them.

I never begrudge an actual creator the lion’s share of the benefit. On the other hand, I believe capital investors take way more than their share of the benefit. That’s the way our society is structured, and I applaud any attempt to overturn that. That dynamic harms all of us every day. We need to flatten out the disparities between executives/investors and labor–Or at least turn them back to 1970 levels.

You’re making it sound as if Chappelle can now not go out and perform or create new content, because doing so suddenly violates his contract and anything new he did would be owned by Netflix. Which is not at all the case, unless I’m very seriously misunderstanding the situation.

I can see an argument either way. Fundamentally, I think it comes down to what the original contract said about DVDs and other things that existed at the time (at least as far as “fairness” is concerned… “fair” and “legal” are of course not at all always the same thing).

If at the time, everyone imagined that DVDs would be THE way that the Chappelle show continued to make money after it went off the air, and the contract didn’t say anything about other not-yet-imagined-media, then the “fair” thing to do would be to more or less roll over the DVD provisions into streaming. So if Chappelle was happy signing a contract that gave up all DVD rights forever, and if DVD revenue then more or less transmuted into streaming revenue, I don’t see how suddenly he’s getting screwed by not getting streaming revenue. If on the other hand, he worked out an excellent deal on DVD revenue and then suddenly it all dried up because everything went to streaming, he’d have a better case. Again, speaking about “fairness”, not legality.

Do we know which of those is closer to being the case?

(The real screw job would be something like “yeah, you get 50% of all DVD revenues, but we just randomly decided to only sell the show on Blu Ray not DVD, and your contract doesn’t mention Blu Ray, so nyah nyah nyah” or something like that.)

I generally agree with all of that… I just don’t see any evidence that Chappelle’s situation is a particularly good example of this issue. And I don’t think the way he’s been presenting it on social media (to the extent that I’ve been aware of it) is making his case in a reasonable fashion.

Chappelle should have followed Taylor Swift’s example and re-filmed the entire run of Chappelle’s Show.

Just kidding.

I tend to agree with MaxTheVool and Johnny_Bravo here. For whatever reason—no clout, bad agent, lousy lawyer—he got a crummy deal on his original contract, and now he’s used his fame and celebrity to leverage a better deal. Good for him, but I don’t see this as some kind of heroic deed that strikes a blow against corporate exploitation of artists. The average struggling creator or performer doesn’t have the power and influence to do what Chappelle just did.

And his “Sure, I signed the contract, but it’s still wrong” [paraphrasing] statements sound kind of tone-deaf. I wouldn’t sign a contract or do business with anyone who had that attitude.

I think that’s Chappelle’s point though; the young, not-so-famous artists consistently and repeatedly get screwed by the big corporations because of their greater leverage and resources. I’d be willing to bet that he didn’t like his initial deal, but thought it was the best he could get, until he was more famous and had more leverage to use against them.

I’m failing to see how it’s much different than when a worker is working for less money than they’re worth, or in conditions they don’t like, and someone says “Well, they’re always free to go elsewhere.”, and the reality is that they may live somewhere without many other options, not have the resources to wait out an unemployed stretch while waiting on a better job, etc… Most young artists probably jump at a deal of some sort (TV show, album, book, etc…) because it’s what they can get, not what they want to get.

I’m not sure what the answer is however; some up-and-coming comic shouldn’t be getting the same sort of deal that Dave Chapelle gets; think of it as similar to a credit rating. Chappelle has a high chance of having whatever he is in be watched by millions. Some other comic is much more likely to crash and burn and lose money. So they get worse deals, just like people with worse credit get worse deals on loans. On the other hand, I’m not sure why these companies go out of their way to screw them either.