Why Hollywood Predators Out Themselves In Their Work
The New York Times dropped an explosive story confirming longstanding rumors surrounding comedian Louis C.K.'s proclivities for sexual grossness. As one side effect, his new movie, I Love You, Daddy, just got exponentially more uncomfortably depraved.
For years now -- at least since a 2012 Gawker piece which suggested a certain "beloved comedian" had a habit of masturbating in front of unwilling women -- rumors have circulated about C.K., who is probably the biggest comedian in the world right now. And they've also mostly been dismissed as just that -- rumors.
Now that the floodgates have opened against creeps in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, paving the way for the Brett Ratner/Kevin Spacey/James Toback/Andy Dick scandals (among others, because holy hell there are a lot of abusers in the entertainment industry), C.K.'s victims have been emboldened to come forward, and their stories are all similar. In the Times article, five different women share stories of encounters with C.K., details of which are corroborated by people like Courteney Cox. But the stories all have a similar narrative -- and incredibly, it's one that C.K. himself used in I Love You, Daddy.
In the film, a character payed by Charlie Day pretends to masturbate while C.K.'s character is on the phone with Rose Byrne's character. Now, whether that's raucously hilarious or not, it's worth noting that one of C.K.'s accusers told The Times that her experience with C.K. happened on the phone, when they were speaking and it was obvious to her that he was masturbating (what's known in Hollywood as an "O'Reilly Call").
Why on Earth would C.K. put a scene in his film which mimics his real-life inappropriate behavior? Keep in mind, this particular accusation hadn't been made public until the New York Times piece; the earlier rumors didn't cover any inappropriate behavior over the phone. The scene in the movie, which was filmed mostly in secret and which few people have so far seen, is a new twist. But apparently not new for C.K.
The weirdly obvious answer to Why on Earth would he include this scene? may be part of C.K. and other Hollywood sex offenders' particular brand of predation. It seems they want to flaunt their misdeeds and get away with it. These men -- C.K., Weinstein, Ratner -- all have similar stories. They've jerked off in front of people who in no way asked for it. They're the subway flashers from 1980s jokes, the creepy guy in the trench coat who wants you to see his shriveled, wizened wang. They want to make you see it because the discomfort is what gets them off. It's a weird control they feel they have in the situation, dictating the terms and nature of the interaction, because the victim had no idea it was even going to happen.
Scumbags who get away with shit tend to flaunt it. Look at Woody Allen and Roman Polanski, both of whom have made movies featuring older men in sexual relationships with much younger women. Polanski made a movie called Tess about a teenage girl who's raped by an older man. If that sounds vaguely familiar, it's because Polanski was charged with raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977. Polanski later appeared in a Brett Ratner movie, wherein he gropes the main characters.
Woody Allen has damn near made his career out of confessing an inappropriate infatuation with underage girls (to say nothing of his actual relationship with his onetime stepdaughter). Manhattan features an adult in a relationship with a teen, as does his new, so far untitled movie, in which Jude Law has sex with a 15-year-old. Whatever Works featured Larry David with a young homeless girl, and Magic In The Moonlight featured a relationship between Colin Firth and Emma Stone.
Victor Salva, a convicted child molester, included molestation "jokes" in Jeepers Creepers 3, which next to nobody saw, but the fact it exists is still gross as hell. Hell, O.J. Simpson wrote a goddamn book called If I Did It. And bringing up O.J. is obviously an apples-and-oranges situation, but it's the attitude after the fact, the need to continue to play it out and almost show off, that gets these guys off.
Predators in the vein of Allen, Polanksi, and now C.K. have a track record of empowering women publicly -- all of them have cast women in prominent, strong roles. It's behind the scenes that things get shady, and arguably that's a good part of how it happens. They set themselves up as people these women can trust or believe in before they get all creep-nasty on them. Call them "fake feminists" or whatever, but it's definitely a tool in their bag of tricks to get access to women.
It's been questioned why C.K. would include material that hits so close to him, and whether it was a nod to the rumors that had been circulating, and he said he hadn't even considered that when he was writing it. And he's probably telling the truth. He probably hadn't considered the rumors back when this movie was written, but he included it because it's him. He does this kind of thing, and to him, it's funny. I have no doubt that he recognizes it as bad as well -- that's how his comedy works. He knows it's wrong. He called and stealthily apologized to several of the women he did this to well before the story broke, despite never acknowledging it in public (and dismissing them as rumors). But that doesn't stop him from taking joy in the act, and repeating it. He didn't jerk off in front of women by accident; he wanted to do it, he wanted them to see it. He apologized in private while never acknowledging it in public to keep this thing going. Which is exactly why he put it in his film.
Since the Times piece dropped, C.K. has released a statement confirming everything. It's all true. He also takes the opportunity to point out that he asked before showing any woman his dick (even though they didn't consent), and that they all admired him because he was a pretty big deal, and if there's one thing we've learned this past month, it's that in Hollywood, big deals think everyone wants to see their dicks. Only after getting caught does he say that he now understands how wrong it all was. This is not a "brave" apology. It's a cowardly attempt to regain moral ground now that the misconduct (which he intentionally kept secret) has gone public and cost him a movie. When they were just rumors, he also called them that -- just rumors. He never acknowledged the truth or seemed to feel bad about the predicament which he now says he understands he caused. Like the rest of them, it's as though understanding and enlightenment is ironically tied to being exposed and losing money, power, and influence -- not when he did the things or heard the rumors everyone else was spreading for years and years. He finally publicly says he's sorry, and what a weird coincidence, it comes right after he got caught.
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