Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Dear Louis C.K.

Discussion ahead of the rape culture.

Dear Louis C.K.,

Let's try this again.

You were on "The Daily Show" last night.  I don't watch that show anymore, since I get enough fauxgressive "both sides are just as bad" fat-hating content elsewhere in life, but I did catch video of your interview on-line.

It was really very gross.

You're playing the role of the reasonable sexist.  The approachable misogynist.  Your message seems to be, "Hey, let's all have a good time here, I don't mean any harm, don't take me too seriously, I'm just polishing the patriarchy to keep it nice and shiny!"  It's either a case of "everything works in my favor, so I find it hard to understand that it doesn't work that way for everyone else, too," or a case of, "hey, I had some hard times, we all have it rough, no special treatment for you!"  I'm not sure, since I don't know much about you.  And maybe I'm wrong.  Hey, there's something you might want to try!  Admitting when you're wrong!

Your explanation of your "I <3 Daniel Tosh" tweet is that it was only a coincidence.  You say that you were on vacation, you had no idea that anything else was going on, and you simply sent out a tweet to let him know how much you enjoy his show.

Then this is all a misunderstanding.  Here you are, innocently tossing a frivolous nod to a colleague, and people interpret that as: "Louis C.K. is a rape apologist!"

Do you know what I didn't hear in your interview?

"I'm not a rape apologist."  "I never would have said that if I'd known the context."  "I'd never knowingly defend that kind of behavior."  "What he said was completely out of line."  "If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn't have said that."

Do you know what else I didn't hear?

"I can see why they took it that way."  "Ugh, my timing sure was lousy, I understand why they made that assumption."

No, you called comedians and bloggers uneducated.  You talked about how they trade in "hyperbole" and "garbage."  Basically, we took your tweet entirely out of context, and how dare we, untrustworthy scoundrels that we are.  Although, since you enjoy rape jokes, it's sort of easy to see how we could have assumed that you were defending Daniel Tosh.  Especially since you didn't bother to say anything about him in your interview besides talking about how funny he is and how much you enjoy his show.

This interview came across as you taking advantage of a national platform to clear up any misconceptions.  But if the misconception was "Louis C.K. is a rape apologist," and your message was "I enjoy rape jokes" and "feminists are humorless," that's not really clearing up a misconception so much as clarifying an already existing message.

You think that comedians are "unfettered" and say whatever pops into their heads without thinking.  Is that a good thing?  Maybe that's something to work on.  Maybe putting more thought into it would make for some better comedy.  Sure, there's a lot of humor in raw response, but "I'm a comedian so I don't think before I speak" isn't a great defense when you're tossing out hateful *ist bullshit.

You also said that feminists and comedians are natural enemies, "stereotypically speaking."  Is that a good way to speak?  Is that a smart, insightful way to think?  It sounds like a built-in defense mechanism.  When someone accuses you of being sexist, you can simply reply, "I said stereotypically!  I didn't mean all feminists!"  Is that supposed to be clever?

"Any joke about anything bad is great."  No.  No, it's not.  Any joke?  About anything bad?  All racist jokes are great.  All Holocaust jokes are great.  All dead sex workers jokes are great.  All transphobic jokes are great.  That is a ridiculous thing to say.  It's a ridiculous thing for a comedian to say, because a comedian should understand the art of comedy and how much effort it takes to hone true wit.

There was so much hateful, sexist blather in this interview that I stopped taking notes.  Melissa McEwan covers most of it well.

I'm only an uneducated blogger of garbage and hyperbole, so I assume that you won't take me very seriously.

Unfortunately, I have to take you seriously, because you have a national platform and a certain amount of influence.  And you used that platform to tell everyone, literally, "I can still enjoy a good rape joke."

You've said that you've learned more about the rape culture since this bullshit came to light.  I hope that you continue to learn.  Please keep listening to feminists and bloggers.  Despite our humorlessness and our hyperbole, we're fighting for a better world.  One where we can all laugh at your jokes, instead of some of us laughing and some of us flinching away in terror.

With love,
Frank Lee


  1. Got here from Shakesville. Thanks so much for writing this; reading your thorough dressing-down helped assuage a lot of the frustration I'm feeling about this whole thing.

  2. This is an incredible post. I feel like re-tweeting all those #ThingsCKShouldHaveSaid or a similar hashtag, but spoons. But thank you for this.

  3. Thank you both! The longer this mess drags on, the more opportunities people seize to expose their nasty sides. I'm grateful that you found something positive here.