Comedian Louis C.K. is many things. An infallible legend for some. A black sweater aficianado. A master of cruel understatements. A white man who could get away with openly dropping the n-word. And, in the #MeToo era, a new sobriquet: serial harasser and public masturbator. The star of the acclaimed Louie was just one of the many celebrities who were caught in the firestorm of #MeToo allegations, after five women came forward with claims of sexual misconduct, as reported by the New York Times. According to the publication, once, he invited two women comedians to his hotel room, where he stripped and masturbated in front of them; in another case, a woman reported that he was masturbating while talking to her on the phone.
After months of fading from the limelight, CK has made his first public appearance at the famous Comedy Cellar in New York City. According to Deadline, the audience welcomed the disgraced comedian as he took the stage at 11pm for a 15-minute set, but he did not address or mention the allegations against him. Does he deserve a chance for rehabilitation? The issue is polarising.
Will CK's reentry facilitate the same for fellow comedians like T.J. Miller (accused of sexual assault), Chris Hardwick (accused of domestic violence), or Andy Dick (accused of inappropriate behaviour)? Comedian and maker of Netflix's acclaimed Master of None, Aziz Ansari, has been performing comedy routines on and off for the past few months, after he was accused of not heeding to 'non-verbal cues' in a very tense date by a New York photographer.
In an indication of the strength of the #MeToo movement, actor Kevin Spacey's latest film Billionaire Boys Club raked in a record low of $126 on its opening day. Spacey had been accused of trying to seduce a 14-year-old boy in 1986, which had led to Netflix cutting all ties with the actor. The total weekend collection of the film, according to The Washington Post, stood at $618. The movie, ironically, revolved around a con man and a ponzi scheme. The contrast is stark—Spacey's earlier film Baby Driver had collected more than $20 million on its opening day.
Whose prerogative was it to accept these apologies? As comedian Aditi Mittal very eloquently puts in a thread, "I love how easily men forgive other men for sexually harassing women. It is not your forgiveness to give out."