So, Louis C.K. performed some comedy on December 18th, 2018. And he would have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids!!
The audio was “leaked” on YouTube and swiftly met with media backlash. It turned out that Louis had the audacity to perform without proper permission or prior notice. Journalists universally expressed their displeasure.
Actor and film producer Ellen Barkin tweeted her thoughts on appropriate retribution: she thinks Louis C.K. should be raped.
Of course not everyone agreed that Barkin’s suggestion was the proper direction the #MeToo movement should take moving forward. Some even pointed out that Barkin was possibly getting away with Twitter violations through some kind of special preferred status.
The US has a long history of cruel and unusual punishment, most of which has been made illegal but some of which is still enthusiastically endorsed on social media. The stockades come to mind. In past generations, a person could be entrapped by wooden stocks in the public square while passersby engaged in whatever punishment their fertile minds could imagine.
Yet even in those good old days, nobody in stocks was subjected to rape. Because rape is a crime.
For those a bit squeamish, Ellen Barkin offers us an alternative. Perhaps Louis should be “shot at.”
Keep in mind, Barkin isn’t suggesting any of the bullets should hit or kill C.K. We should give her the benefit of the doubt and point out that Barkin is merely saying C.K. should be shot at without result. The concept seems to be in line with the “eye for an eye” doctrine since C.K. included a joke referencing teenage survivors of the Parkland school shooting.
After 9/11, Joan Rivers took a lot of heat for being one of the first to joke about the terrorist attacks. As Time magazine published (after her death) during a Comedy Central Roast in 2009 Rivers said, “They called me evil, mean and [a] plastic surgery whore and disgusting. I kept saying to myself, ‘How do they know so much about me?’”
The thing I found most curious about the media reaction to C.K.’s comedy was that they seemed to think the “leaked” audio from his set was some sort of bust, catching him trying to get away with performing comedy in secret. As if he was scuttling about in dark alleyways trying to tell jokes without anyone finding out.
Performing comedy means nothing without an audience. That’s how C.K. made a living before his downfall and that’s what he hopes to do again.
This was the second standup routine C.K. performed since his admission to having acted inappropriately toward female comedians. And it was the second time he performed to a round of applause when he appeared on stage.
Whether or not C.K. has media approval to perform again is moot. His fans seem to want to see him return. And if C.K. can’t be stopped then his critics will continue to try to shame those who laugh and applaud. Judging by the applause in the leaked audio, fans do want him back.
As C.K. says at the end of his latest set, “what are you going to do? Take away my birthday?”
Perhaps that is the biggest threat that C.K. poses to those who want to control the landscape of speech.
Louis C.K. has nothing left to lose. He most likely will get funnier and when that happens, how will social media stop him?