It seems like everyone is having a “No. Not him, too?” moment lately.
Kevin Spacey. George H.W. Bush. George Takei.
Hell, I went to a With Confidence concert three days ago, only to wake up this morning and find out they’ve called off the rest of their tour after firing guitarist Luke Rockets for allegedly sending sexually explicit messages to a 14-year-old girl.
Louis C.K.’s admission of sexual assault came as a surprise. But it shouldn’t have. It absolutely shouldn’t have. The rumors flew around for a while. I heard them. As a fan, I guess I didn’t want to believe them. Nothing was confirmed. They were only whisperings, so I could keep enjoying his stand-up specials and FX shows guilt-free, right?
Louis himself repeatedly denied the allegations. That is, until the New York Times published the accounts of five women who claimed C.K. masturbated in front of them or on the phone, or at least proposed the idea.
I almost wanted to give him credit for being the only accused man in Hollywood to own up to his allegations. Weinstein denied the allegations, while, for some reason, promising he was getting treatment for the sexual misconduct he denied ever committing. Spacey also denied the allegations, provided a half-hearted apology, then came out as gay – something many called a distraction and offensive to the LGBTQ community. But I feel like I can’t give him credit.
I’ve loved Louis as a comedian, because he is so self-deprecating. He admits his screw-ups and dark moments in a way I can relate to. It makes me feel less self-conscious about my own screw-ups. I laugh, but I’m not just laughing. I’m also comforted.
In a way, it feels like Louis did that in that episode of his FX show everyone is talking about now: “Pamela Pt. 1”. Louie, the character played by the comedian, forces himself on his friend, Pamela, despite her expressing her romantic disinterest in him.
Louis’ apology feels like a less-disguised comedy routine. I believe he’s genuine. He knows he messed up and is admitting it. Is it hard to swallow, especially after he denied it for so long? Yes. It should be. Does it excuse his actions? Absolutely not. It never will. Is he only sorry because he got caught and fans like myself couldn’t hold onto “they’re just rumors” anymore? Maybe.
What Louis and every other powerful man who’s been accused of sexual misconduct, pedophilia, rape or harassment within the last month has done is inexcusable and, to put it lightly, unfair to the women and men that have to deal with the guilt and shame that comes hand-in-hand with sexual assault and harassment.
You can apologize, you can admit it, you can deny it, you can claim you’re seeking help, but in the end it doesn’t really matter. As a result of your actions, one more woman or man in this world will feel guilty, unsafe, violated or any combination of these feelings. Your fans will have trouble looking at your art the same way. Art that once brought them laughter, entertainment, joy and relief now feels tainted.
Owning up doesn’t make Louis better. Many are calling for an end to his career, so an apology doesn’t seem to cut it. As a (former?) fan of his, I can’t accept his apology. I don’t know if anything will make this “better.” I’m sure the women who felt unsafe and uncomfortable when he abused his power at their expense could say the same.
Schae Beaudoin is the life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.