There’s a new documentary about the Louis CK scandal called Sorry/Not Sorry. To be clear: I haven’t seen it yet and don’t have an opinion on it. The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival a couple weeks ago to – from what I gather - a mixed reaction. Among the knocks against the movie are the fact that almost none of the comedians who criticized him at the time agreed to appear in the film. In fact, the only two whose names I recognized in the reviews are my friend Jen Kirkman and myself.
"Because people will do bad things unless they believe there will be lasting consequences for their actions. Also, what I’ve learned is that these stories don’t just affect the people involved. They create ripple effects. The way we treat abusers and victims now has a tremendous effect on how we treat them in the future. Our response to them now will encourage or dissuade people from coming forward later."
This is exactly it. Moral injuries (and physical and emotional) are real. These guys inflict the moral injury after the other kind when they get away with what they get away with. He was abusive, full stop.
he's still doing the work imo. glad to read this.
I was a big fan, too, enough to be on his email list and to have seen all his specials. You are the first person to articulate exactly how I felt when he re-emerged. As a woman who has dealt with the type of behavior that created this scandal both as a young girl growing up in NYC, a teenager, and a grown woman, I was REALLY hoping he was going to be able to say something real and genuine about what had happened, express heartfelt remorse, assurance he understood the impact this had on the people he violated, and further assurance he was getting, and would continue to get help with this pathology. He did none of that. I think he is only sorry he got caught. I think he believes it’s “not that bad” but I’m going to tell you it really is a violation and is simply not okay.
I feel sorry for his daughters and his ex wife, I feel uncomfortable when I think back about some of his sexual material which was so dark. I remember times I wondered how his wife could tolerate some of the things he shared. But then he’d turn around and have so much material that was pure gold.
I’m really sad I can no longer watch anything he does or has done. He lost me, and it sounds like he lost a lot of us, but not enough to make much of a dent in his continued success. I really appreciate that you spoke out and continue to speak out. It can’t be easy but it really does matter.
I admire your integrity, then and now, by staying true to your own convictions.
May I ask: what was the nature of the backlash you received? And was it coming from his fans, critics, or both?
Because the assaults were in the workplace doesn't make them legal. If any of the nonconsenting recipients had chosen to go to the police, his behaviors would most certainly be considered criminal, no different than if he'd done this while on a train or sitting in a park. A business also can't prevent staff from pursuing a criminal complaint, if they wish to.
(Similarly, you can't kill one of your colleagues in the office and argue that it's a matter for HR.)
Splitting hairs over legality awfully fine, here. I'm not sure why that defence is being offered. He was a great deal more than merely a creep.
The whole scandal was...well, I think Dr Fish put it really well below, so I won't repeat or rephrase.
That said, what really made me stop listening to Louis CK, what really made me realize that I just couldn't with him anymore, was the part that you highlight, the part where he kinda started acting like an ass in the aftermath. Not like the funny, gross perverted ass we all loved laughing with, but the kind of ass who decides to target the Parkland kids for having the temerity to speak up. That, to me, pointed to a broader shittiness that I didn't think I could forgive. Had he gone the route you talked about, maybe I could have, but alas.
(Of course, I'm not anybody whose forgiveness should be sought out...)
Thank you for speaking up, and thank you again for articulating the issue so well.
Louis CK was my favorite comedian before this scandal broke and he handled it in such a poor way that it felt like a personal slap in the face to his fans (and a lot of my female friends of comedy feel the same way). He built his career fusing his gross out comedy bits with broader humanistic and socially liberal points (one of the first times I remember him blowing up was his rant about peoples phone and internet obsession) that it came across like a betrayal to find out he didn’t actually believe any of that at all
It’s a struggle. Thanks for being a real man.
Thank you for voicing the frustration so many of us feel.
I'm glad to read that you spoke out again. I liked how you phrased your feelings about it in the Obscure episode, and you've done well doing it here as well.
I was a huge fan of Louis CK and was disappointed when I heard what had happened. I, like you and many of the commenters here, did not think that what he did placed him in the ranks of a Cosby or a Weinstein, but I was still disappointed. I found that I did not enjoy his comedy anymore. Not that he was no longer funny, but because I found myself thinking about what happened and focusing on that instead of the comedy.
I wonder why he did not take that leap and champion the MeToo movement by being self deprecating as he is so good at doing and as you were hoping he would? He had nothing to lose reputation wise, in my opinion. Maybe it was financial. Maybe he was protecting his daughters. I don't know if we'll ever know.
I’m glad you chose to do the doc. I have had a similar experience on a much smaller scale here in my local comedy scene in the Seattle area. Not being able to tolerate your own hypocrisy resonates with me very much. As well as, having the back of victims or other protected classes of people who are continually targeted by people who make terrible choices.
I loved Louis, I saw his career grow, I rooted for him, watched everything he did, saw him perform live a couple of times, was on his email list and bought his comedy specials and paid directly for his show Horace and Pete. He was amongst my favorite comedians of all time alongside Carlin, Rock and Chappelle.
I completely agree in being disappointed that he refused to use his gift to earn a path back to redemption. His sins were not at the level of Cosby or Weinstein, but his lack of lasting accountability is no different than them. It's a shame.
Ultimately what made it easiest to end my long lasting admiration and fandom of Louis is the fact that so much of his comedy was, as you said, funny AND gross. He tells graphic, perverted, and very sexual jokes that made me laugh almost as much as they made me squirm.
And they made me laugh a ton, he's a master at his craft.
But he's also someone who clearly has a kink of getting off on people being witness to his perversion. Once I learned of his obsession with masturbating in front of people (sometimes voluntarily, sometimes involuntarily) it cast his old sexual jokes into a new light. His darkest sexual jokes suddenly seemed less like an awkward confession and more like an extension of his kink.
I don't know if he gets off by forcing his audience to witness him telling graphic and gross sexual jokes. But I also don't know why he gets off by forcing people to watch him play with his dick.
In that unknown, his sexual jokes were no longer going to be as funny as they were just going to make me squirm.
I am not a Hollywood insider, though I do know working actors, a couple of whom are walking picket lines somewhere, but I have been an observer of humanity for about as long as I remember. My conclusion about the nexus between Hollywood and bad behaviour is that those who, like Louis CK and Russel Brand and Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby and others whose names have not yet reached the front page, reach a certain level of fame and fortune, their people work to remove barriers and obstacles. Their own fame and money--how does one lose $35M overnight, anyway?--are major enablers. They know who they are, they get the best seats, they never have to queue up for anything, people want to be near them and are willing to put up with pretty much anything, and nobody ever says, "You really are a jerk. Just stop." More people should.
You and Jen Kirkman spoke out when it would be much easier to say nothing. And most won’t.
Thanks for using your voice, Michael, even though it would have been easier to say no. You’re not just a good example for your kids, but for your fans too. ❤️