Palpable Responsibility

Before I start, I just want to say this:

They are Dana Goodman, Julia Wolov, Abby Schachner, Rebecca Corry and the unnamed fifth.

This isn't just "content." It's important to remember that there are human beings attached to this post. People that didn't want to be attached to this conversation or situation. It's important that carrying forward, I place weight on them and that their names (or an acknowledgement) appear before the abuser, Louis C.K.'s.

Full disclosure, I did not give Anthony Rapp the same respect.

I want to say it was a rough one, but there are no surprises anymore. We all need the sobering, human moments that teach us that our heroes are just as fallible as the rest of us, but when our heroes are celebrities, we don’t typically get that. Whether these people form some sort of role model for you, whether they’re spiritual guide posts or just sources of motivation; the culture of celebrity has made it easy to select your model of “hero” to base your life around while remaining unaware of the real human aspect of them.

We’re able to build these images of people in our mind through their art, or their representation in the media. When this representation is self produced, as in the case of Kevin Smith’s Smodcast, or WTF with Marc Maron, we get an honest sense of who these people are, but despite everything we hear, and even feel, we don’t know them. We can take guesses on what they’d be like in a one on one interaction, but until you actually meet them—and not in an artist/fan way, but a truly human interaction—until you meet them, you don’t know them. The two men I just brought up, they fall into the honest category. Especially Maron, I’d be surprised if someone could say something about him that he hasn’t already aired in a book or podcast.

On the other hand, there are people like Judd Apatow, who fills his movies with his family, and writes them with a genuine heart. Leslie Mann is in almost all of his movies, as well as their daughters, Maude and Iris. Often, they come as a three pack (Knocked Up, This is 40, Funny People), and it’s the natural representation, as well as the humanity contained in his movies that builds up the “personal” picture of both him and his family.

Louis C.K. has always projected a very human portrait of himself; whether it be the poor schlub he portrays on Louie, or the chronically troubled comedian that he is on stage. Because of this, he the was the lighthouse for a lot of young men like myself. He’s a “liberal” comedian, but he challenges the PC nature of the world today. He has no qualms with racial slurs or homophobia, because his platform is “…well, I’m not racist or homophobic, so I can say these words in an ironic fashion.”

Example A (paraphrased, because I’m not wasting time on his words anymore):

“It’s not okay to rape. Don’t rape anyone… Unless you want to have sex with them, and they won’t.”

After last Thursday, how do we allow that to grace our ears without colliding into the knowledge of this mystery woman that he “pushed into a bathroom?” Only white men can say, “they’re just words.” Only white men can be ignorant of the power structure that turns pens into swords, and then condemn those they cut. His non-apology acknowledged that, but I can’t say I believe him. His “apology” feels more like “I’m sorry I’m so influential.” It’s sad that at this point, we can compare public apologies by sex offenders, and it’s even sadder that we can say, “Well, at least he didn’t go full Spacey.”

The thing that really bothers me is how I used Louis C.K. jokes to make things okay, and it’s not just me. There is a large section of people that use Louis C.K. jokes and dialogue to make horrible words “okay” again, because of the “progressive” way in which they are used. Language is one of the precious few things we have to separate us from the animals, and people like Quentin Tarantino, Louis C.K. and Bill Maher continue to use the words built to dehumanize—to turn our fellow humans back into beasts. Whether it’s the way women are talked about, nonchalantly using the n-word, using the gay f-word, using racist off-hand terms, or not using preferred pronouns, it all contributes to the degradation and humiliation of our own people—the humans.

James Baldwin once said, while talking about the n-word, this, that I’ve transcribed from the video I’ve posted below the quote. He’s talking about white people in America inventing the n-word, and why.

I’ve always known that I am not a ******. But if I am not the ******, and it’ s true that your invention has revealed you, then who is the ******? I am not the victim here. I know one thing from another… I’m was born, I’m going to suffer and I’m going to die. So, the way you get through life is to know the worst things about it. I know that a person is more important than anything else—anything else. I learned this because I had to learn it, but you still think I gather that the ****** is necessary, but it’s unnecessary to me, so it must be necessary to you. Now, I give you your problem back.

You’re the ****** baby, it isn’t me.
— James Baldwin

This echoes in my head as remember all the rape jokes Louis C.K. told, all the mimed masturbation in front of thousands. The jokes where he tells the crowd that men are the number one threat to women aren’t about us as men, they’re about him failing as a man in real time.

Judd Apatow said this in response to Louis C.K.:


There’s a real, palpable responsibility floating into Hollywood these days. The responsibility to cleanse an industry of predators and create a new culture where all people are given a fair chance—without having to sell their souls to anything but the page, the camera or the microphone. Without that, we could rush head first into a second term of cultural depression.