Saturday, November 11, 2017

The 'winner' of the sex scandal sweepstakes

For the past eighteen months, going back to the final heat of the presidential election, Americans have nearly drowned in a tsunami of sleaze, with perpetrators and victims trading accusations, alibis, explanations, revelations, legal maneuvers and lurid details.

Perhaps the only moment of clarity came yesterday when comedian Louis C.K., actually admitted that the accusations against him—masturbating in front of five women—were true and he almost owned up to the grossness of his acts.
Louis C.K.: Hero among scoundrels?

He stepped up to edge and expressed "regret" and "remorsefulness"—rather than an outright personal apology to the victims—but at least in his rambling, too-long statement he recognized the inappropriateness of what he did.

Compare that to how our current Sleazo-in-Chief, of "grab their pussy" infamy, just walked away from the statements by sixteen women who accused him of sexual harassment, in effect by calling them all liars. Or how Bill Clinton at first denied the sexual assault accusations against him with the astonishing assertion that oral sex by "that woman" wasn't really sex.

And after all this outright lying, both men survived the scandals, at least for the time being in the case of Trump.

Then came Alabama U.S. senatorial candidate Roy Moore, whose public persona rests on a pedestal of Scriptural sanctimoniousness, particularly with regard to gay people. First he denied anything untoward happened with teenage girls, then admitted a weakness for teenage girls but only above a certain age. Yes, Roy, we understand.

A few of his supporters leaped into a logical abyss by arguing that since the Virgin Mary was only fourteen or so when the older Joseph got her pregnant, well you know, what ol' boy Roy did, hmm, wasn't all that weird.

Mercifully, a chorus of ministers and theologians intervened immediately and howled their disagreement with such reading of Scripture, calling it ridiculous and blasphemous.

Most distressing of all is that, just like Trump and Clinton, Moore might still get elected even if his history of shameless hypocrisy makes his acts all the more repugnant.

Moving to the gay corner we find one of my ex-favorite actors Kevin Spacey, who used the booze alibi and then announced he was gay, both of them lame excuses. If anything drunkenness makes you doubly responsible—for your drinking and your acts while drunk.

And as for his "coming out," please, that's like Oprah courageously tweeting that's she's black. Everyone knew Spacey was gay and that doesn't excuse jumping on a fourteen-year-old.

Then there's Harvey, who tried to have his lawyers stifle revelations by the New York Times and the New Yorker magazine. Nice try.

Amid all this miasma of denials, lies and equivocations comes Louis C.K.'s statement. Almost on the first line he does what Trump, Clinton, Weinstein and Moore couldn't bring themselves to do: He admitted the accusations were true. That's progress.

Second, he also admitted that his actions were abusive not only sexually, but because he was in a position of power over these younger women who were trying to get into the comedy business.

"The power that I had over those women is that they admired me," his statement said. "And I wielded that power irresponsibly."

Can't imagine Trump uttering such words; his dictionary doesn't contain the world "apology."

"There is nothing about this that I forgive myself for," C.K.'s statement continued. "And I have to reconcile it with who I am."

C.K.'s current purgatory, though, could be just a tad more redemptive if I heard that he had personally apologized to those women individually rather than through a "group regret."

The irony is that C.K.'s comedy act, which could be very funny and which I enjoyed, was often based on sleazy one-liners and situations that in retrospect qualified as sexual harassment.

Not to worry, I'm not about to excuse his actions. Right now I could not watch his routines without the image of his actions ruining the jokes.

He isn't that funny anymore, but at least he took a stab at being honest.
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