me too, but not what you think

The past couple of weeks has been intense. It began with revelations about Harvey Weinstein and snowballed into a veritable explosion of information in all different realms, not just Hollywood, and there’s no end in sight. I am still trying to figure out what I make of all of it. Where’s my voice in this? What do I want to communicate? Every podcast and thought-piece I’ve listened to or read describe our social landscape irreversibly changed. It should go without saying that it’s for the best. Transparency is necessary and the systems of oppressive boys’ clubs and abuses of power should be exposed and torn down.

I love Miramax movies, but Harvey Weinstein was a predator and overtly used his power to prey on young actresses. Kevin Spacey is an amazing actor, but he always had a reputation for being a cruel man. These men are easy to vilify, to demonize. Then, last week a Times article chronicled an encounter with Louis C.K. and two other female comedians and he joined the list of these evil men.

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Louie. Not Louie. Louie was and maybe still is one of my heroes. In the midst of a culture intolerance and division, Louie’s voice championed nuance and understanding. His commitment to his craft inspired many shows I love (yes, even Horace and Pete). His methods in creating Louie on FX changed what was possible for a singular comedic voice to drive a show as he directed, acted, and even edited his own content without network intervention. There’s no Atlanta, no Master of None, no Better Things, without him.He became the Carlin/Pryor role model for a generation of comedians (Aziz Ansari, Kevin Hart, Trevor Noah, etc.) showing them what it takes to stay relevant: work the clubs, build an hour, film a special, burn it all, repeat.

Then, this week, I listened to Marc Maron and Bill Burr address what has happened with their friend. Burr’s was very Burr-like. He described when he gets assaulted by aging, wine-breathed cougars. He defends his manager Dave Becky, who has been caught up in this by association.

But Maron, Maron really opened up. He shared times where he used his power influence inappropriately. He told a story of when he was hurt by a person he trusted and the powerful, lingering effect it had on him. And when he talked emotionally about CK, I almost cried.

“And look, I hope this doesn’t come off as any sort of apology for anything. You know, I’m disappointed in my friend. He did some gross s***, some damaging s***, and people are like ‘how are you gonna be friends with that guy. He’s my friend! And you know, he f***ed up. And he’s in big f***ing trouble. So, what am I gonna do? I’m gonna be his friend. What do you want me to do? I mean, it’s probably the best time to be his friend, when he needs to make changes in his life. I can learn from it. He can learn from it, I hope.” – WTF Podcast 11/13/2017

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Louis C.K. and Marc Maron, 1989

It doesn’t feel right to lump Louie in with the others. The others were evil, but Louie was good. I see a portrait of a man who is haunted by his sexuality and he’s afraid and ashamed and apologetic for what it has done to the people around him. Then I realized why it was so hard. Not just because he’s a hero, but I think when I saw Louie, ashamed at the demon inside him that has taken control and wrought havoc in the world around him, I saw it. I saw myself. This week, I finally found my voice in all of this controversy.

I knew when the dialogue began that I wasn’t one of the victims. I wanted to be an ally, but there was a part of my conscience that held me back. When I saw the hashtag #metoo, I wanted to say #metoo, but specifically me too, I’m guilty. I’m guilty of treating women inappropriately. I’ve touched them inappropriately. I’ve pushed girlfriends further physically than they wanted to go. I’ve entertained thoughts about women that haunt me and would turn the stomachs of anyone who could step inside my mind. When I look down at this situation, I’m not standing amongst the victims, I’m not standing with the allies. I stand with the perpetrators, not in their defense, but sharing in their guilt.

I’m still not sure what I’m supposed to say. I think I want to come out and say me too, but not in the way that you were hoping. Me too, I’m guilty. Mostly, I think, I just wanted to say that I’m sorry.

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