On Thursday, comedian Louis C.K. was accused by five women of sexual misconduct in a piece published by The New York Times.
On Friday, the comedian did something surprising, at least given this latest raft of Hollywood scandals: He totally admitted to the behavior he was accused of.
In a lengthy — and occasionally vulgar — mea culpa to The Times, the liberal comedian admitted to masturbating in front of unwilling women on multiple occasions.
“I want to address the stories told to The New York Times by five women named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt able to name themselves and one who did not,” the comedian began, referring to the women who accused him of sexual misconduct.
“These stories are true,” the letter read.
“At the time, I said to myself that what I did was O.K. because I never showed a woman my d*** without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your d*** isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them.
“The power I had over these women is that they admired me,” he continued. “And I wielded that power irresponsibly. I have been remorseful of my actions. And I’ve tried to learn from them. And run from them. Now I’m aware of the extent of the impact of my actions. I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves and cautious around other men who would never have put them in that position.”
It’s here worth noting two things before we move on to the rest of the letter.
First, if you are going to publicly make a confession that puts yourself at risk of civil lawsuits, and potentially criminal charges, it would probably help people’s impression of you and your level of remorse if you didn’t use the word “d***.”
Second, even though this is the most thorough and complete of the Hollywood admissions we’ve seen so far (this certainly isn’t Kevin Spacey saying that he didn’t remember whether he’d tried to sexually assault a 14-year-old boy), it’s still not a full admission.
Note that he claims he “said to myself that what I did was O.K. because I never showed a woman my d*** without asking first.” The original story makes it clear that the women in question didn’t respond in the affirmative and thought it was a joke. This is like a rapist saying he thought what he did was excusable because he asked his victims if it was OK to have sex with them first, casually omitting the fact that the answer was “no.”
Louis C.K. continues to say that “(t)here is nothing about this that I forgive myself for. And I have to reconcile it with who I am.”
“The hardest regret to live with is what you’ve done to hurt someone else. And I can hardly wrap my head around the scope of hurt I brought on them,” he continues.
Then he closes with a variant of the oldest Hollywood mea culpa cliché of them all: “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.”
Eliminate the last seven words of that — or replace them with “… and try to avoid jail time and/or massive legal settlements” — and you would get significantly closer to the truth. This is the final nail in the coffin of Louis C.K.’s career. He will likely have to listen and likely for a long time, but that has no effect on anything that will happen in terms of his career and we certainly don’t need to be told of it.
I think this should be clear to everyone involved in these Hollywood scandals: There is no second act. You do not need to tell us that you’re taking time to “step back and actively deal with this,” or “examine my actions and their effect on others” or whatever finely crafted drivel your publicist came up with.
Now, you may indeed do those things, and probably should. However, a) to put it out there specifically for public consumption indicates that you probably won’t and will just pull a Weinstein, and b) nobody cares.
There is nothing funny about sexual predators. We cannot, as decent people, look at a sexual predator on stage or film and think anything other than the fact that we’re looking at a sexual predator.
The curtain has closed, Mr. C.K. The only thing we can pray for is that your victims can find some way to heal, you can find some way to change, and that your collective victims are the last women that you hurt in this horrific manner.
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