Artifact One: Fiona Apple at a Tokyo fashion event.
Apple grew frustrated with the ongoing chatter in the venue, a hall at Tokyo Station Hotel, where the exhibition makes its home. Partway through her short set, she climbed on top of her grand piano and asked the audience to be quiet so that she could perform. She then challenged everyone to be silent for the duration of a tone she created by striking a small metal bell. The performer grew even more angry when the noise in the venue continued.
Apple instructed the audience to “shut the f–k up” and uttered other expletives, both audibly and under her breath, calling the event’s attendees “rude.” She continued with her set before shouting, “Predictable! Predictable fashion, what the f–k?” as she stormed off the stage. The show was punctuated with other bizarre moments, such as when she hit her head with her microphone, did a back bend over her piano bench and stared intensely at her guitarist as if in a love-struck trance.
Artifact 2: Dave Chappelle walking off the stage at a Connecticut comedy club.
Chappelle wasn’t having a meltdown. This was a Black artist shrugging the weight of White consumption, deciding when enough was enough. This isn’t the first time Chappelle has done so and it isn’t the first time his behavior has been characterized as a meltdown.
There is a long history of asking African-Americans to endure racism silently; it’s characterized as grace, as strength. Chappelle’s Connecticut audience, made up of largely young White males, demanded a shuck and jive. Men who seemed to have missed the fine satire of the Chappelle show demanded he do characters who, out of the context of the show look more like more racist tropes, than mockery of America’s belief in them.
When he expressed shock at the fact that he’d sat there and been yelled at for so long, people yelled that they’d paid him. They felt paying for a show meant they could verbally harass him, direct him in any tone of voice, as though they’d bought him.