This is not a defence of Louis CK. This does not excuse his actions. This is an article about how my own respect, my own love for another person’s work makes a fall from grace hurt so much more. It’s an article about how now, more than ever, the world needs heroes to step up to the plate and to be the real deal.
On Thursday, the New York Times broke a huge story about comedian Louis CK where up to five women accused the comic of sexual misconduct against them. The nature of the accusations can be read over on the NYT article but needless to say, as a huge fan of the man’s work, it’s hard to read. I wouldn’t usually comment on something like this, as it brushes so close to the gossip columns that I find it a bit gauche to throw my hat into the ring. However, my own personal love for the man’s work combined with recent high profile Hollywood scandals makes it hard for me to ignore it all.
One of the worst parts about the accusations against Louis CK is that it highlights how easily lead anyone can be if their hero is a well-respected auteur like CK is. I count myself among the people who are disappointed and saddened to hear about the stories reported against Louis. For me, and many others, Louis was a bewilderingly funny voice cutting through the inane numbness of life. His brutal honesty coupled with brilliant worldly insight was not only a breath of fresh air but it just felt so thrilling watch someone so racked by personal anxieties cast them away in such a savagely funny way. For me, he is one of my comic heroes. Up there with Chris Rock and Jim Jefferies and even standing taller than the likes of Bill Hicks and Andy Kaufman. To hear that the source of his jokes probably come from real life instances of unwanted sexual attention damages his integrity to an almost irreparable degree.
It’s so incredibly hard for me to write this. As Ms. Schachner (one of the five sources quoted by the NY Times) said, “you want to believe it’s not happening”. For years rumours of Louis’ sexual oddities had circulated in some darker corners of the internet but I had always dismissed them as bitter, failed comedians. Comedians that were looking to get a quick boost by dragging down someone as titanic as Louis. The truth is, I shouldn’t have let my loyalty blind me. The nuclear fallout of people like Cosby, Weinstein, et al, means that to root out a problem of toxic sexuality people like myself have to be hit with an atom bomb to change our minds. When you’re staring respect and heroism in the face, it’s often too difficult to be told the person you love so much has done something awful. The scandal swirling around people of respect like Weinstein and Louis is the bucket of ice cold water across our face that we desperately needed.
Even in writing of my disappointment, of noticing my own tendencies to defend him, I still can’t help but find little nuggets of humour around it. The accusations against Louis sound like a scene from Louie. There’s almost an element of humour in the accusations pointed at CK. Perhaps not for the women involved, of course, but my first thought upon reading the article was that I wasn’t surprised. But how do you fix the problem at the core of masculinity? To what extent are men damaged themselves versus natural intent? It had always been my opinion that the reason men are as toxic as they are is because of lifetimes of damage, of systemic homogenisation of the sexes, of the currency that each sex pays to be streamlined into the two male and female lanes. Women pay in sex, men pay in violence. The logic being that violent acts, violent thought patterns and suffocating anti-intellectualism builds up men like Weinstein, et al. The early lives of men damages their outlook from early on, where the direct end result of that damage is the subjugation of women, people of colour, queer people… you name it, they’ve been harmed by this wounded animal. How do you cope with a problem so systemic and pervasive that it almost feels like nature?
As a lover of art, of culture, of the beauty of life that is almost impossible to put into words and of a lover of all creative’s everywhere, this one hurt me more than most. I didn’t just find Louis hilarious. To me, he was my comedy hero. He said so much about life that I couldn’t put into words. He could diffuse your anger at life with effortless wit and humour. He seemed like such a natural. He wasn’t afraid to throw himself under the bus to call out inconsistencies in people, and he had an affable self-effacing manner that I think a whole culture of people latched on to and fell in love with. If 2016 was the year our heroes died, then 2017 is the year the survivors let us down.