Comedic legend Judd Apatow, who has written and directed some of our favorites (Freaks and Geeks, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up) and produced some of our other favorites (Girls, Bridesmaids), was at the Critic’s Choice Awards last night, presenting the “Best Director” category. He started his speech off thus:
“Let’s have a big round of applause for me. Somebody bailed out last minute and so they called me. They knew I’d be home tweeting about Cosby. And I WAS available.”
Yes, Apatow has recently added “Twitter vigilante” to his long list of credits and accomplishments. In the wake of over 20 women coming forward and with claims of Bill Cosby both drugging and sexually assaulting them (many of these women have only come forward in the last few months, some have been telling their story for years), Apatow has taken to social media (and also just regular media) to denounce a comedian who was once his hero.
Apatow is basically doing everything you can do on Twitter to take a stand against someone.
He’s tweeting at venues that are hosting Cosby asking them to not support the accused rapist:
He’s shaming Cosby supporters on Twitter:
He recently went on Marc Maron’s WTF podcast to talk about his Twitter campaign against Cosby:
“One thing that I do know is I’m not comfortable with him running around the country doing stand-up like nothing’s happening,” Apatow explained to Maron. “I guess, on some level, I feel like I can’t be a part of solving that many problems in the world — I do my best to get involved where I can be effective — but this is our neighborhood. [. . .] I absolutely would like to see him in jail. That’s where people who commit sexual assaults go.”
If you’ve been following Apatow’s Twitter vigilantism, you know he received some flack from Blackish creator Kenya Barris on Twitter for being “strangely obsessive” about Cosby but relatively quiet in terms of other recent issues.
“I spoke to him afterwards about that,” Apatow said, re: Barris. “I can understand why someone would say, ‘Why does Judd care about this?’ I don’t know, I have two daughters. I’m a comedian. I see him a little bit as our comedy dad. It’s like finding out your comedy dad is a really evil guy. You want to say, ‘Hey, does everybody care about this? That he’s doing that?’ And when the community is pretty silent, then I feel like, ‘Well, if no one is going to talk, then I’m going to talk.’ If everybody was talking about it, I probably wouldn’t have much to say about it. But I don’t want it to suddenly disappear and then he kind of just goes back out on the road and does his thing.”
Apatow’s worry that the outrage against Cosby will “suddenly disappear” is, unfortunately, a valid concern. Our culture tends to give powerful men a free pass, placing the responsibility of proof on the victims of sexual assault, dismissing testimonies, silencing and shaming victims while continuing to reward powerful men for being powerful men.
Roman Polanski raped a 13-year-old girl, had to flee the United States to escape sentencing, and then not only went on to make more movies, he WON AN OSCAR in 2002 as Best Director for “The Pianist.” When Woody Allen’s daughter comes forward and tells the worlds that her father sexually abused her as a child, she is shot down, he continues to make movies with famous actors, and then Amazon gives Allen his own show. Apatow needs to be “strangely obsessive” when it comes to reminding the world of the seriousness of the Cosby allegations, which the comedian has largely dismissed, because such claims aren’t often taken seriously enough.
The thing is, Apatow’s convictions seem to have larger implications that go beyond just one man. “The reason to say, ‘Bill Cosby is a terrible man and I believe these women’ is so women aren’t hiding in their homes in shame when people commit violent crimes against them,” he boldly explained on Maron’s podcast. “That’s why everybody has to say, ‘I just want to go on record, I believe these women. But you’re not seeing important people say that. It is dead silent out there. And I find it very, very troubling.”