The Left and the media have a funny way of denying Cancel Culture.
If a “canceled” artist is still allowed to publicly speak or make a living, just how canceled are they, they cry?
Liberal film critics used that argument against the 2019 docudrama “No Safe Spaces.” Well, Cancel Culture isn’t real because the film’s stars, Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager, are still allowed to make a movie, right?
Never mind that Carolla is persona non grata across mainstream Hollywood for being a free thinker, or that Prager’s appearance at a benefit symphony concert nearly got derailed by his critics.
Recent stories surrounding Dave Chappelle, under severe Cancel Culture attack for telling the “wrong” jokes, strike a similar note.
Now, it’s happening to Louis C.K.
The mind behind FX’s award-winning “Louie” was one of Hollywood’s most respected comedians. Four years ago, his smart dramedy, “I Love You, Daddy” co-starring Chloe Grace Moretz had Oscar buzz all over it.
He held all the “right” political opinions, too.
C.K. was one of the first stars to compare Donald Trump to Hitler.
Then, several women came forward and claimed C.K. pleasured himself in front of them. The comedian quickly confessed and watched his career implode.
- His FX show got canceled
- He lost his agent
- “I Love You, Daddy” got yanked from the release schedule (it’s still on the shelf)
- The comic’s role in “The Secret Life of Pets 2” went to Patton Oswalt
C.K. became a cultural pariah. And many Americans quietly muttered, “good.” Some … not so quietly.
Could you blame them?
The comic, already a star at the time, exposed himself to female comedians who might have otherwise benefited from C.K.’s advice, tutelage or networking ties.
Instead, they were sexually demeaned. Disgusting.
Still, the 50-something comic refused to leave the craft he loves. So, after a year of being an outcast, C.K. slowly sought out select club appearances. Many likely shut him out. A few, though, let him return to the stage.
Since then, he’s released two comedy specials independently – “Sincerely,” which earned a Grammy nomination for Best Comedy Album and now “Sorry.” The latter seemed to catch pop culture’s attention, partly, because an ad for the special aired on NBC’s far-Left “Saturday Night Live.”
The Independent used the tried and true technique of letting social media users shape their preferred narrative – “Viewers think Louis CK’s new comedy special is proof that ‘cancel culture isn’t real’”
Would we need to see C.K. smashing rocks in an isolated prison to think otherwise? When is someone able to reclaim their life, their livelihood?
C.K.’s current scenario seems, well, perfect in an imperfect world. Fans aghast at his past behavior can refuse to buy his new special, and for very good reasons. Others, who see a flawed but funny man worthy of redemption, can order it as they please.
Heck, we’re currently watching a parade of hardened criminals bailed out to commit more heinous crimes tomorrow.
Mainstream Hollywood remains out of reach for C.K., and there’s little indication that’s about to change.
Netflix didn’t debut “Sorry,” nor did Hulu or any other established platform. He’s not going to host “SNL” again any time soon, if ever. His wry voice won’t give life to any animated foul or felines.
Another consistent attack on C.K.? We’re still waiting for him to apologize.
The far-Left Daily Beast called the material in “Sorry” unapologetic, as if he should squander valuable stage time by apologizing to a crowd of strangers unaffected by his gross behavior. TheCut.com weighs in with the same attack line.
Except he did apologize, publicly, immediately after the news of his outrageous behavior broke.
Louis C.K. went on to say that he is “remorseful” and has “tried to learn” from his irresponsible behavior. “There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for. And I have to reconcile it with who I am. Which is nothing compared to the task I left them with … The hardest regret to live with is what you’ve done to hurt someone else.”
The comic extended his apology at the time to FX as well as the cast and crew behind “I Love You, Daddy.” (It’s worth noting “Daddy” star Moretz hopes their film collaboration never goes public).
The Cancel Culture mob doesn’t want one apology, though. It craves a serious of mea culpas, each more groveling than the last. And canceled artists should stay canceled.
The people who deserve his apology the most, of course, are the women he personally demeaned.
The Louis C.K. story isn’t a perfect fit for Cancel Culture in the first place, despite most outlets connecting the two without hesitation. The cultural trend is more about progressive power and punishing “wrong think” then processing legitimately vile behavior.
Producer Harvey Weinstein is often dragged into the Cancel Culture conversation, but he doesn’t belong there. Weinstein is sitting in prison for sexually assaulting multiple women. He didn’t use the wrong pronoun or accept a film role he shouldn’t have, according to the cultural overlords.
C.K. engaged in gross, disrespectful behavior. No one denies it. That’s far different than Dave Chappelle telling a joke that a tiny segment of the culture deems hateful.
Words are words, especially those uttered from a comedy stage. Actions are something else. A more mature Cancel Culture conversation would draw a stark line between the two.
Separating the art from the artist, though, remains a thorny question every person must personally decide.
Still, the current C.K. situation feels … acceptable. The comedian isn’t in jail, nor has he been charged with a crime. Hollywood studios see him as radioactive for his vile actions and choose not to work with him, sensing the public wouldn’t be open to such a reunion … yet.
C.K., eager to tell jokes on his terms again, created an independent forum for him to do just that. And his fans, at least those who forgive him, can howl at his crude gags as they see fit.
There’s one final note.
C.K. receives a thunderous reception at the start of “Sorry,” far more than a stand-up comic usually receives, let alone one who committed such a disgusting act in from of innocent women.
It’s likely a reaction to the cultural smackdown he received, a sense that consumers should be able to decide what they can and cannot see, fueling that applause.
“A lot of people, though, said, ‘He’s had enough. Let him get off the mat’ … they took everything from him, and if he wants to do stand up I mean, it’s a free country. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to go to the shows.”