Disgraced comedian Louis CK’s rant shows abusers are still casting themselves as victims
- Louis CK expressed remorse for his actions in 2017, but has taken on a self-righteous persona
- Kevin Spacey, recently charged with sexual assault, released a sinister video apparently discussing his case
One of the more idiotic, if not wholly surprising, by products of the #MeToo era is how men who have been exposed as misogynists and abusers have recast themselves as victims. Lost livelihoods and broken reputations are, they tell us, an excessive price to pay for their transgressions.
Lately, though, going hand in hand with this victim status, is a new hardened persona, one that comes bathed in fury and self-righteousness. “You thought that was bad,” they seem to say. “You ain’t seen the half of it.”
Take Louis CK, the comedian who, in November 2017, admitted to repeatedly exposing himself to and masturbating in front of unconsenting women and, on being found out, declared: “I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want. I will now step back and take a long time to listen.”
For CK, “a long time” meant nine months, after which he was back on stage at the Comedy Cellar in New York doing what comics tend to do: talking and saying what he wanted. Now, new audio has emerged from a fortnight ago, featuring a lengthy Louis CK rant recorded at a Long Island club.
It finds him “jokingly” bemoaning the money he has lost in the past year, mocking the survivors of the shooting in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 students and staff members were killed, and lamenting the new political correctness that champions gender neutral pronouns and frowns on the use of words like “retarded”.
Presumably sensing disapproval from his audience, he says: “What, are you going to take away my birthday? My life is over, I don’t give a shit. You can … be offended, it’s OK. You can get mad at me. Anyway. So why do black guys have big d***s? Let’s talk about that for a minute.”
It’s possible that this is a calculated career move, an attempt on the part of Louis CK – a one-time liberal comic hero – to restyle himself as a rightwing hatemonger expostulating about snowflakes, virtue signallers and ethnic minorities, though he might want to look at Milo Yiannopoulos’ credit rating before he sets out on a full-blown tour.
A more likely story is that this is just a howl of self-pity. Poor Louis has lost everything – top of the list being his ability to write a smart gag – yet he is still able to pull a crowd after a year in the supposed wilderness. Perhaps most revealing in his hour-long whine-a-thon is the assertion, “My life is over, I don’t give a s**t.”
Not only does it reveal him as entirely unchastened by the experience of being outed as a literal w*****r, it also suggests he believes his self-inflicted downfall now allows him to do and say exactly what he likes. He’s like the party host who, after eight solid hours of drinking, has decided to deliver some drunken truth bombs to his guests.
Louis CK isn’t the only man in the public eye who, rather than choosing to reflect or, at the very least, keep a low profile, has become a wronged party bubbling with wrath.
Last week the actor Kevin Spacey released a sinister video titled ‘Let Me Be Frank’, in which he fleetingly reprised his role as Frank Underwood from House of Cards seemingly to address the repercussions of the sexual misconduct allegations against him.
This despite having previously apologised to one of his victims, the actor Anthony Rapp, and pledging to “[examine] my own behaviour”.
As with Louis CK’s latest outing, a critical assessment of Spacey’s video would be pointless, but, suffice to say, it could prove a useful showreel for next year’s panto season.
Is this what the fightback against #MeToo looks like? We all know that unproven accusations can ruin lives, though you’ll note that James Franco, Johnny Depp and Casey Affleck are all still in gainful employment.
But what of those men who have admitted their misdemeanours? Perhaps it was naive for their victims to expect meaningful contrition. There was no Damascene moment with these men and no confession; as the voices of #MeToo gathered in number and urgency, they were just found out.
Still, for all their early expressions of remorse, rage rather than regret has proved to be their default setting. As far as they are concerned, an apology and/or a few months’ soul-searching is a fitting punishment, but the threat of losing their power – the power that allowed them to do what they did for so long – is a step too far.
Just ask Louis CK. Hell hath no fury like a celebrity scorned.