In what is now an incredibly ironic scene from Netflix’s “House Of Cards,” Kevin Spacey in his role as Francis Underwood says something to the effect of “Everything in life is about sex except sex; sex is about power.” What Louis CK did was an abuse of power. No, it wasn’t rape and in a strange way it fits in with CK’s schlub/loser persona (which at some level most of us can all identify with) but it was sexual abuse nonetheless. Not only was it a serious mind fuck on the women he perpetrated it on (without their consent), it seems to have had negative professional ramifications (loss of work) for some of them.
Unlike Spacey, Harvey Weinstein, Roy Moore, and other prominent men who’ve recently been accused of sexual abuse, CK quickly owned up to his actions with a profuse public apology. Whether this was coming from his conscience or simply his method of damage control is yet to be seen. In an interview on “Fresh Air” this week two journalists covering this story reported what seem to be clumsy attempts at apologies by CK to some of the women long before this story broke. They also reported material (which I haven’t seen) in which CK seems to be joking about scenarios similar to the ones he perpetrated. Although I believe the best art comes out of the direct experience of the artist I find this last detail quite damning: he’s flaunting his abusive behavior and selling it to his audience. Is this not a perfect illustration of a power trip?
CK needs to reach out to each his victims and find out if and what (if anything) he can do to make things right. This would probably happen privately and hopefully for them he is already on it.
This episode puts CK’s fans in a strange spot; we like his no-filter, transgressive comedy. His genius lies in his ability to turn our dark thoughts and insecurities into side splitting hilarity. Louis CK is for those tired of the phony bleached teeth botox nicety that is held up as the ideal to which all should aspire. This extends to sex too. CK resonates with our inner freak as much as our inner dork. We hate to think “Oh no, not him too….”
If anything good can come out of this it would be to help move the issue of sexual abuse and harassment to the center of our national cultural conversation. It’s happening all the time, right under our noses, in our homes, churches, work places and other “safe” spaces. Maybe as a whole we’ll own up to our own complicity in this abuse and stop turning such a blind eye to it.