Blowhard, Esq. writes:
Over at New York Magazine’s Vulture, progressive media critic and RogerEbert.com editor Matt Zoller Seitz proclaims that “Louis C.K. is Done”:
Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey, and Harvey Weinstein’s entire body of work has been retroactively contaminated by multiple accounts accusing them of sexually predatory behavior ranging from sexual harassment to rape. These stories change our perception of their art, whether we would like them to or not. This is not just unavoidable, it’s a necessary part of processing art and coming to terms with it.
When disturbing stories about respected artists come from the distant past, we treat them dispassionately, as just one detail among many. Present tense or near-present tense revelations hit us differently because we share the same world as the artist, breathe the same air, feed the same economy. We think of them as contemporaries, even as people we know. This kind of revelation changes the relationship between the artist and the art, in a way that places an unasked-for, unfair burden on the audience. This is what’s happening culture-wide. And it’s not the fault of people who didn’t report it, or audiences who aren’t sophisticated enough to separate the art from the artist. It’s the fault of the artists for being secret creeps or criminals, and the fault of the system for making it possible for them to act this way for years without being punished.
C.K. betrayed the trust of the women he exposed himself to. Their experiences should always be considered first when his name is discussed and his legacy debated…
There’s no reason to feel remorse for disinvesting affection we sunk into artists who are later revealed to be criminals or abusers. There’s no reason to have qualms about stamping their work “Of Archival Interest Only” and moving on to something new — not just new work, but a new paradigm for relationships in show business, and all business. The women who came forward opened themselves to being ostracized and re-traumatized. The only reason they spoke up is to make show business, and the world, safer and more humane. Time to listen.
While reading this article, I was struck by the finality of the judgment. Now that C.K. is a confirmed “gross” “sexual predator” (because so saith The New York Times), welp, it’s time for us all to leave him behind and move on. Off to the leper colony with you Louis, to join Cosby, Spacey, and Weinstein. Esquire reports that C.K.’s new movie will not be released while HBO, FX, and his previous friends are all cutting ties.
I’m not the first to notice that contemporary progressivism, despite its contempt for religion, is in many ways little more than a secular version of Christianity. For example, its rigorously enforced dogma (political correctness, no platforming), obsession with the Devil (racism and sexism), veneration of its saints, and uptight sexuality. But it’s starkly unlike traditional forms of religion in two significant ways. First, whereas traditional religions make distinctions between levels of sin — e.g. “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” a venal sin v. a mortal sin — nearly all of these Hollywood harassment claims are being treated as equally terrible. From Weinstein allegedly raping women to Weinstein coming on to women in his hotel room to Spacey hitting on a 14-year-old boy to Spacey hitting on a 18-year-old man to C.K. masturbating in front of women to Matthew Weiner telling a co-worker she “owed” it to him to let him see her naked to Dustin Hoffman telling an off-color joke — all are equally offensive and equally deserving of vilification. The idea that people might draw distinctions or even dismiss some of the charges doesn’t seem to occur many.
Second, going back to the Seitz piece, while traditional Christianity has a deserved reputation for harsh, condemning, fire-and-brimstone denunciations, that strain is counterbalanced by its root belief in charity, forgiveness, and redemption. What it takes with one hand, it gives with the other. Not so the proggy adherents of the Church of Our Lady of the Current Year. Seitz may be disappointed by C.K.’s exile, but the underlying, unspoken assumption is that permanent exile is the only solution. Perhaps I’m incorrect and Seitz would agree that Weinstein et al. can redeem themselves via the proper rituals: intense therapy, a Mea Maxima Culpa late night tour, and buying an indulgence, er, donating a ton of money to the right charity. But it’s still telling how that road isn’t even hinted at.
- In the comments to his article on his Facebook page, Seitz adds: “…I’m basically done with Woody Allen. I decided a couple of years ago that as a survivor of childhood domestic violence, I am obligated to believe Dylan Farrow. As a result, I can’t stomach his work anymore. And even if I still had doubts about that, the way he continues to rub the audience’s noses in age-inappropriate relationships, one after the other, is just unseemly. Like he’s getting away with something and laughing about that. My daughter is named Hannah because my wife and I loved HANNAH AND HER SISTERS, so none of this is easy for me to say.” It does not logically follow that because you were victimized by trauma X, you are therefore “obligated to believe” every other person who alleges to be victimized by trauma X. As a friend points out, it makes about as much sense as saying, “I’ve been mugged by black men, therefore I am obligated to believe anyone who says they were mugged by a black man.” Furthermore, saying you are “obligated to believe” or that “all women must be believed” is nothing more than saying, “I have faith in my church.” What happened to the use of our reason, judgment, and the weighing of evidence? Are the residents of Maycomb, Alabama in To Kill a Mockingbird “obligated to believe” Mayella’s charges against Tom Robinson? Were we “obligated to believe” all of the charges in the Satanic ritual abuse cases?
- The same friend also wonders why Bill Clinton continues to get a pass in all of this. Remember during the 90s when fuddy duddy conservatives said that sexual sin matters and liberals screamed, “It’s just sex, get over it! Don’t force your private morality into the public sphere!” PEPPERIDGE FARM REMEMBERS.
- Can someone explain to me why David Bowie’s entire discography shouldn’t also be stamped “For Archival Use Only”? Jezebel certainly seems to think so. (And if they don’t think so, why the fuck not?) Rebecca Solnit’s excuse that it was a different time and culture certainly didn’t apply to the Confederacy in the Civil War Statues debate, so why should it apply to Bowie? Isn’t this current Hollywood scandal the Confederate Statues 2.0?
- In the 80s there was a dopey family sitcom called GROWING PAINS that some may recall. There’s an episode where one the kids meets his idol, a rock star played by young Brad Pitt. His idol turns out to be an asshole. The kid is upset. Cool dad Alan Thicke tells him, “Sometimes your heroes are assholes, sometimes artists you hate are nice people. Who cares?” To think that some cornball TV show has more wisdom and maturity than 99% of our respected thought leaders.