Long-Suffering Victim Louis CK Wins Grammy, Is Still Victim

Media/Entertainment
Long-Suffering Victim Louis CK Wins Grammy, Is Still Victim
141105-D-KC128-825 | Comedian Louis C.K. performs onstage du… | Flickr

Sunday night, comedian Louis C.K. won a Grammy, which means today we have to talk about cancel culture and whether or not it exists and is a real thing. Fun!

Just as a refresher, while rumors had been around for years, Louis CK was formally accused in 2017 by several female comedians of whipping his dick out and masturbating in front of them. CK then admitted that he had done this and wrote an apology letter in The New York Times explaining that he thought it was okay because he asked them beforehand if it was okay for him to show them his penis and did not realize that they might feel weird about saying no to one of the most famous and successful comedians in the country.

In 2019, he pandered to the MAGA crowd by mocking Parkland students. In 2020, he released a comedy special in which he made light of his behavior, saying, "I like jerking off, I don’t like being alone, that’s all I can tell you. I get lonely, it’s just sad. I like company. I like to share. I’m good at it, too. If you’re good at juggling, you wouldn’t do it alone in the dark. You’d gather folks and amaze them."

As small as the the audience for juggling is, one would have to imagine that the audience for watching Louis CK jerk off, no less be "amazed" by it, is significantly smaller.


And Sunday night, as mentioned, he won the Grammy for best comedy album, leading to a whole lot of people saying that this is proof that "cancel culture" does not exist. Which it doesn't, at least not as an entirely new phenomenon that only just began existing in the last few years because of oppressive social justice warriors who just want to ruin the lives of people for making any small mistake, like accidentally showing your penis to people and then masturbating in front of them. Rather, people have long been turned off from performers based on their personal behavior — those people just didn't always know about it because social media did not exist and there were simply not as many platforms available for people to talk about it publicly.

What has also always existed are people who say, "OK, I don't like this person as a human being, but I can still enjoy their work for whatever reason." And let's be real, we all do it. We all make these calls all of the time because there are a hell of a lot of crappy famous people both throughout history and right now. I love Puccini with my whole heart, but he was not a good guy and Madama Butterfly is as problematic as it is musically gorgeous. I rationalize still loving Rosemary's Baby for reasons of "Ruth Gordon was not in enough things and I am not giving up watching her be amazing and dole out tannis root smoothies because Roman Polanski was horrible."

Apparently that was how whoever judges The Grammys felt about Louis CK.

The messed up thing about the whole cancel culture debate is that it takes the humanity out of very human situations and turns them into a moral panic bandwagon that people are jumping on without thought or care. People aren't mad that Louis CK got a Grammy even when he was supposed to be "canceled," they're mad because he whipped his dick out at people who did not want him to do that, which is a relatively reasonable reaction to have. Especially when it has been five years and he hasn't even bothered to try to make amends in any significant way. He doesn't need to, because there is a whole "canceled comic!" career trajectory that is just ripe for the picking.

I'm not saying that there are any circumstances in which it is not a little gross for Louis CK to be getting a Grammy, but the really crappy thing about it is that there were probably a few things he could have actually done to show some accountability for his actions and attempt to make amends to those he hurt, and he didn't bother.

What CK did was bad for anyone, but this was particularly egregious because of the amount of power he had (and still has) in the comedy world. The reason he was able to get away with what he did for so long was because women did not want to fuck up their careers by telling him to fuck off. Two of his accusers actually did go around telling people that he whipped out his dick and started masturbating in front of them and were told by his equally (if not more) powerful and influential manager to back off or else. Those women said that they ended up turning down opportunities because CK or his manager were involved.

Instead of sneaking around, performing secret "surprise" shows to prevent anyone from protesting them, and setting the stage for his own comeback, CK could have actually tried to use his power and his connections to help out those he'd hurt, whose careers had possibly been derailed by his actions. This is not to say that this would have made up for what he did, but it's the kind of thing that a human person who is genuinely remorseful might do.

That's the thing with the whole "cancel culture" moral panic, isn't it? Because people jump on the "Oh, what? Am I/Is this person bad forever now just because they made one mistake (or at least five mistakes)?!?!" thing before they or the other person even gets on the trajectory of at least trying to make up for that mistake.

I actually do believe that people can, do and should change. I believe we should encourage that at every turn. I also believe that people going on offense and pushing the idea that those who are hurt or disgusted by someone's behavior are the real villains actually makes it harder for people to change and to have any kind of redemption arc.

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse

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