Last week, everyone had an opinion about Will Smith slapping Chris Rock, with each take being weirder than the last.
One of the funniest reactions was people insisting that comedians were now all in danger of similar retribution.
On Sunday night, the Grammys took place, and disgraced comedian Louis C.K. took home an award.
Whatever happened to “cancel culture” ruining lives? By his own admission, Louis has been a danger to more comedians than Will Smith could dream of being.
Louis C.K.’s Grammy win came for his stand-up special, Sorry.
While the special had earned mixed reviews, especially in light of the jokes about sex crimes and the use of homophobic slurs, that was not the main issue.
The main issue was that this was his first stand-up special released since he publicly admitted to sexual misconduct.
In 2017, in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s long overdue, extremely public fall, other famous men were called out for sexual misconduct.
Some were sexual predators with dozens (or even hundreds) of accusers. Others had only one person willing to share their horror story.
This was when Louis C.K. was first publicly named — after years of whispers and blind items — as a serial creep who had driven some women out of comedy altogether.
Louis C.K. spent years making a habit of masturbating in front of women with whom he worked.
In some cases, they thought that he was joking until he took out his penis and began.
There are very few jobs where it’s appropriate to ask if you can masturbate in front of a coworker, let alone do it. Comedy is no exception.
What set Louis C.K.’s story apart from so many of the other horror stories that we heard in 2017 is that he confessed.
Louis acknowledged that the women in question were not lying, though he claimed to have not realized that whipping out his penis and masturbating in front of these women was sexual misconduct.
He did admit that he was in a position of power over these women, seeming to finally understand that his actions were harmful.
After a lengthy career of comedy and acting and with an eight-figure net worth, Louis took a step back from comedy.
For whatever reason, he lacked the basic decency to stop doing standup for even one year.
Despite having made the world of comedy unsafe and traumatic for multiple women, he apparently felt entitled to return to comedy — and some feckless individuals helped him to do so.
His tone upon returning to the world of comedy had shifted considerably.
In the past, many of his jokes had to deal with parenting, maturity, and anecdotes with underlying messages of basic respect for others.
Upon his return, he was suddenly seeking a different audience — more conservative, more hostile, more reactionary, and (obviously) less concerned with how safe women feel in the workplace.
It is one thing for one bad man to continue to be a bad man, to be seemingly flippant about his past bad actions.
We all know that rotten people seldom change overnight, especially when there is an audience who will cheer louder for a bad person than for a good one.
It is another thing, however, for such a person to be honored with an award like a Grammy.
Even if the stand-up had been well-received, this would be weird.
Considering how lukewarm many of the critics were, one almost imagines that the Grammys were sending a sinister message.
Or maybe the award was simply thoughtless. The harm is the same, no matter the intent — just as with Louis’ initial misconduct.
What makes this so interesting, aside from being a solid rebuttal of “cancel culture” accusations, is how it juxtaposes with last week.
Last week, one man with a complicated history with a woman he has known for decades made a cruel joke about her, and that woman’s husband slapped him.
Somehow, this incident elicited more hysterical outrage than an institution like the Recording Academy handing an award to a confessed sex creep.
Look, we get why so many people have been talking about Will Smith — it’s not just that they’re famous, it’s that we watched it happen.
There was also ample discourse, with hot takes so over-the-top that some people genuinely invoked 9/11 to describe the event.
To be clear, “Chris Rock needed to STFU” and “I don’t believe that violence is the answer” are both valid takes, but so many of the responses were not.
But some of the remarks last week seem remarkably prescient now.
Various people commented on how Will Smith may face social and even professional consequences for the incident, but sexual predators will continue to work in the entertainment industry.
If Louis C.K. winning a Grammy the same weekend that Will resigned from the Academy doesn’t highlight that, we don’t know what does.
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