This dichotomy reveals an interesting paradox that I think isn’t explored nearly enough.
On the one hand, you have an artist, who albeit has to not only possess the natural talent and grueling work ethic that it takes in order to succeed, but at the same time is still indeed, only one of a great many.
On the other hand you have long-standing, heavily curated, institutions of media distribution, who constantly devour content for mass consumption.
Who makes who??
Now, while I wholeheartedly support Dave and believe he’s a bona fide legend in his industry, I cannot at the same time absolve him of any benefit he received from Comedy Central in the making of his show. Without CC giving Dave his break, The Chappelle’s Show (probably) would’ve been no more than a collection of VHS tapes sitting in someone’s basement, and he would’ve made absolutely nothing on it at all, much less a lifetime career. Ask all the guys who were never offered a contract if that’s true or not.
I’m no lawyer either, but I do know that the reason why the entertainment industry operates the way that it does, is because it works. Holding an artists’ content “Throughout the Universe into perpetuity” is warranted due to the fact that without the Studio’s production budgets, the most meaningful artistry anyone would ever get to see would be YouTube. And I think that counts for a lot.
I’m not saying that Viacom shouldn’t give Dave his money — But I think the real question here is how much, if any, do they owe him? And also, please keep in kind that they did offer him $50 mil, and he turned it down.