Right after the #MeToo movement brought Harvey Weinstein down, comedian Louis C.K. experienced his decline. In a report by New York Times, several women claimed that Louis C.K. used his power in the comedy world. And tried to sexually harass and intimidate them.
What Did Louis C.K. Do?
Almost 5 different women claimed to have been sexually harassed by Louis C.K. However, all of them have diverse timings in their accounts. But they all span from the mid 90’s to 2005. Almost all the stories are very identical. The established comedian asked all these women to either watch him masturbate or made them do that for him. Four of the women were named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia and the fifth one preferred not giving out her identity.
In the wake of these resurfaced allegations, HBO decided to take off all Louis C.K. shows off the television. Further, they announced that the comedian will no longer appear on Jon Stewart’s upcoming fundraising show Night of Too Many Stars. Netflix bailed out on Louis C.K as well saying that the company will not move forward with his next planned stand-up special. FX severed all ties with him and his production company overall. Despite having worked together for 8 years, he claimed to not be associated or receive compensation from Louis C.K. anymore. His upcoming film I Love You Daddy was abruptly cancelled just a few hours before its premiere. And with these claims from different women, Orchard has called off the movie altogether.
Louis C.K.’s Response To Allegations
Louis C.K. reacted in possibly the most unimaginable way. But the comedian did not deny the sexual harassment claims. In fact, he personally acknowledged and agreed with them without even seeing where he had gone wrong.
In a public statement, Louis C.K. admitted to all the allegations launched against him. He said that the stories were true. But he expressed his remorse to the women he assaulted. He claimed that back at that time, he did not even realize that he was wrong. And he told himself that he did okay because he never showed a woman his dick without asking first. But later in life, Louis C.K. understood that when a person is in power, asking someone to look at their dick is not a question. Rather, it becomes a predicament. He said that he had power over all those women because they admired him. But he manipulated his power irresponsibly.
In his statement, Louis C.K. apologized for his misconduct. And said that there was nothing he could forgive himself for. But he had to reconcile it with who he is. And that is nothing compared to the task he offered all those women. Although, Louis C.K did not issue direct public apologies to any of his victims, his statement was an extensive expression of regret.
Back then, Louis C.K. announced that he was going to take a break from his career. However, it was not entirely his decision since every network had already banned him.
Louis C.K’s Return To The Industry
Considering the sexual harassment scandals from 9 months back, nobody would have imagined that Louis C.K. would step back into business. But on Sunday night, the formerly disgraced comedian made a surprise appearance at the Comedy Cellar in New York. His return triggered a plethora of emotions from fellow celebrities and fans. Emotions range from outrage to sympathy.
While some people attempted to defend the comedian against all the outrage, common opinion was that it’s still not the time. A fellow comedian Aparna Nancherla made a tweet saying that his return reflects on how the society treats the powerful men after they show less than the bare minimum of decency.
louis ck getting a standing ovation for dropping in to a comedy club less than a year after admitting to sexual misconduct tells you all you need to know about how society applauds powerful men for doing less than the minimum of decency
— Aparna Nancherla (@aparnapkin) August 28, 2018
Katie McClure said that Louis C.K. did nothing more than a poor attempt at an apology and had one cancelled movie. And probably the consequences he faced are just not enough. Others pointed out that his time away was so less that they are still using the same shampoo bottle they were when he went on the break.
I’m still on the same shampoo bottle as when louis ck’s time out started
— Sarah Lazarus (@sarahclazarus) August 28, 2018
A lot many people pointed out that making a surprise appearance was just not the best choice. And maybe, informed consent is a concept totally unknown to Louis C.K.
A lot many others jumped to his defense saying that he was different from Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby. They said that the comedian at least owned up to his sexual harassment scandals. Unlike the offenders of the #MeToo movement who were in denial, Louis C.K. does not deserve the same treatment. One of the most prominent people to support his return was popular comedian and filmmaker Michael Black.
Will take heat for this, but people have to be allowed to serve their time and move on with their lives. I don't know if it's been long enough, or his career will recover, or if people will have him back, but I'm happy to see him try. https://t.co/QmqdGJnIjy
— Michael Ian Black (@michaelianblack) August 28, 2018
Is Louis C.K’s Return Justified?
Having your career compromised has to be one of the greatest concerns of all the accused in Hollywood. Sexual harassment charges can practically put an end to your life in the industry. And so it did when the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements brought down prominent Hollywood figures like Harvey Weinstein. But it’s important to realize that not all offenders fall into the same category. Even when sexual assault is the worst thing anybody could do to another person, sometimes the broader picture needs to be considered.
Yes, undoubtedly, sexual harassment criminals should be punished for their pathetic display of humanity. And even when what Louis C.K. did can never be justified on any grounds, it’s essential to know that for people to actually evolve and become better from what they were, it is necessary to let go. To make sure nothing like this happens in the future again, people need to be forgiven when they are sincerely apologetic. Just like Louis C.K was in his public statement. More importantly, fire can not be fought with fire all the time. And just because the comedian made people suffer, he can not suffer for the rest of his life.
Another significant thing to consider is that there is a huge difference in between people like Louis C.K and Harvey Weinstein. Weinstein did heinous crimes but never publicly accepted his allegations till the time he was actually under investigation. Even then, he refused to own up to anything he did. But Louis C.K on the other hand publicly acknowledged his accusers and presented the true story. The comedian claimed that he never even realized the error of his ways till it was a bit too late.
Is it okay to never forgive someone who has now offered a public apology for harming others without realizing what he is doing?