How Louis C.K. made me kinda sorta understand conservative hypocrisy

I’m going to admit something improbable: I understand the mindset of the Fox News viewers who are upset that Bill O’Reilly was fired, or the Roy Moore supporters who are trying to compare him to St. Joseph this morning. I don’t agree with them, but I understand what their thought processes are, all thanks to Louis C.K.

The rumors about Louis C.K. had been out there for years — hell, Louis C.K. made many references to it in his own work — but somehow it didn’t make it any easier to grapple with the news that Louis C.K. repeatedly masturbated in front of women without their consent.

I’m a comedy nerd. As a kid, I would watch every HBO Young Comedians special, every 30-minute stand-up show on The Comedy Channel and HA! (the precursors to Comedy Central), and as soon as I was old enough, I spent plenty of time at Houston’s Laff Stop, the legendary comedy club that launched Bill Hicks, Sam Kinison, and my high school boyfriend’s failed stand-up career.

I first became aware of Louis C.K. via Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, the brilliant Comedy Central animated series that turned stand-up comedians’ routines into therapy sessions (and right now, I can’t decide if that’s subversively genius or a little too on the nose). I’ve seen Louis C.K. live a few times now — both in grand theaters and once, back in 2002, on the tiny stage at Laff Stop. I watched every episode of the disappointing Lucky Louie, and no one was more excited for his groundbreaking and brilliant series Louie on FX. I am was a huge fan.

And because I am was a huge fan when the stories about Louis C.K. started trickling out back in 2012, I initially wanted to reject them, I wanted to ignore them, I wanted to believe they weren’t true. How could it be real? Not only was his stand-up unabashedly feminist, but he championed a number of female comedians — he couldn’t possibly be capable of such gross, unacceptable behavior.

It’s not an earth-shattering insight that pop culture helps create identifiers. A fan of Amy Schumer’s stand-up comedy is going to be a very different person than a fan of Jeff Foxworthy’s. These preferences help explain to the world who we are as people. And while that one particular fandom isn’t going to be the single most important thing about an individual, it is a part of the self. And the self always wants to reject any sort of insult or injury to it.

And that’s why it’s so difficult as a fan to see someone you identify with — someone who helps identify who you are — be exposed as a predator or a monster. You’re not the monster, you know you haven’t done anything wrong, but a part of your self feels under attack. And that is why, at least temporarily, as long as they were only whispered rumors or suggestions but never confirmed with actual stories, a part of me was able to push these stories to the back of my mind, continue to be a fan of Louis C.K. and not worry.

Much.

What made me finally come to grips with the reality of Louis C.K.’s behavior were a few things: the thinly veiled anonymous reports in Gawker started coming out in 2012, which I chose to ignore, but which made the “Pamela, Part 1” episode of Louie in 2014 — where his character becomes sexually aggressive with Pamela Adlon’s character– troublesome and difficult to watch. Jen Kirkman then came forward — again with thinly veiled references — with her own stories. But it was the whole blow up with Tig Notaro which began last year when it sure looks like he stole a bit of hers for Saturday Night Live, and which came to fruition in this recent season of One Mississippi where a male character behaves exactly as described as Louis C.K. in this New York Times piece — that was the final ‘that’s it, I’m done here,’ blow for me.

And listen, it was painful to wrap my head around the fact that this person who I enjoyed so much for so many years, this person who I admired as a feminist ally, this person who was a signifier on my big board of signifiers, could be so disgusting. It’s easy to be critical about the Bill O’Reillys and the Harvey Weinsteins and the Steven Seagals and the Jeremy Pivens and the Roger Ailes — it’s a hell of a lot harder when it’s someone you thought was on your team.

But we all have to grapple with whomever our personal Louis C.K.s are no matter how hard or painful it is. We have to listen the accusers’ stories, we have to give them the benefit of the doubt and not shut down or make excuses. This is the only way to root out predatory behavior — by facing it and denouncing it, especially and particularly with our own personal heroes.

Meanwhile, I’m going to sit here and hold my breath while I wait for the G.O.P. to join me.

So how is it going out there for Louis C.K.? NOT GREAT.

His movie premiere was cancelled, his appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert was cancelled, his relationship with HBO has been severed, Netflix has dumped him and FX is looking into it. This is not great news for the genius Pamela Adlon series, Better Things, for which Louis C.K. has written and directed. Let’s hope he can be severed without destroying her show.

Here’s how the comedy world is responding to this story. And here are some other celebrities’ comments.

Most notably, Mike Schur apologized for putting Louis C.K. on Parks and Recreation after he knew about the allegations:

And poor Tig Notaro feels trapped in her business relationship with Louis C.K.

OH JESUS CHRIST, MATTHEW WEINER. SEE ABOVE.

Jenny McCarthy is the latest to step forward against Steven Seagal.

Amanda Anka, Jason Bateman’s wife, is one of several women coming forward say that hotelier André Balazs assaulted her.

Los Angeles has had to set up an entire task force to deal with Hollywood’s sex abuse complaints.

Meanwhile, this piece of shit right here.

Gina Rodriguez has dropped her agency in the wake of the allegations. And Terry Crews has fired his agency.

That time Marlee Matlin accused William Hurt of raping her.

Relevant:

Ed Westwick is cooperating with authorities. Meanwhile, the BBC dropped him.

Model Edie Campbell wrote an open letter about sexual misconduct in the fashion industry.

Aly Raisman has also come forward to say Team USA’s doctor also abused her.

You know, now might be the perfect time for Good Girls Revolt to come back.

In other TV news

Game of Thrones is looking for a sad-eyed young girl (ages 9 – 11) for “one excellent scene with a leading cast member.” Watchers on the Wall thinks it will be for a scene in or around King’s Landing, for what it’s worth.

Christmas specials are coming. And with them, more colorized versions of classic sitcoms. For some reason.

Did CBS just inadvertently spoil the midseason finale of Star Trek: Discovery?

Renewals

Cancellations

In Development

Casting News

R.I.P.

John Hillerson, “Higgins” on Malcolm P.I. (and Texan, who knew?)

WATCH THIS

FRIDAY

Love You More: The hilarious and outrageous Bridget Everett stars in this new comedy as someone who is basically Bridget Everett. Amazon

Lady Dynamite: Maria Bamford is back. Season two. Netflix

Sea Oak: This is a new series from George Saunders starring Glenn Close about a woman who comes back from the dead to harass her family. Yes to all of this. Amazon

SATURDAY

Saturday Night Live: Tiffany Hadish & Taylor Swift 10:30 p.m., NBC

Obey Giant: A documentary about the rise of street artist Shepard Fairey. Hulu

Futurama marathon: Syfy welcomes Futurama by running a day-long marathon. 5 a.m., Syfy

SUNDAY

Vice Principals: “The school comes to a startling end.” Series finale. 9:35 p.m., HBO

Last Week Tonight: Season finale? HOW? NO. 10 p.m., HBO

No Activity: This is a new cop comedy from Will Ferrell and Adam McKay starring Tim Meadows. But, then, it’s on CBS All-Access, so. Series premiere. CBS All-Access

The Walking Dead: The Saviors have a new weapon in their arsenal. 8 p.m., AMC

Late Night: The Late Show with Stephen Colbert: (Friday): John Mulaney Watch What Happens Live (Sunday): Kandi Burruss, Tameka “Tiny” Harris, Latocha Scott, Tamika Scott

 

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