Comedian Norm Macdonald basically called Louis C.K. a victim, and um, no
On August 26th, Louis C.K. performed a surprise stand-up set at the Comedy Cellar in New York City—marking a return to comedy after he admitted to masturbating in front of several women without their consent. Supporters of the #MeToo movement felt that his return was insensitive, whereas many of his fans claimed that he had already repented. Now, fellow comedian Norm Macdonald has come to C.K.’s defense—and his comments miss the mark.
In an interview published on The Hollywood Reporter today, September 11th, Macdonald said he felt the backlash against C.K. was too strong because the comedian had already apologized. THR noted that the interview took place several days before C.K.’s return to the stage, but Macdonald’s comments still miss the point of the larger movement to hold powerful people accountable for their words and actions.
"The model used to be admit wrongdoing, show complete contrition, and then we give you a second chance. Now it's admit wrongdoing and you're finished," Macdonald told THR.
Macdonald said that he knew a few “innocent” people who had been affected by this mentality—namely (according to Macdonald) C.K. and comedian Roseanne Barr, whose rebooted show was canceled after she came under fire for racist tweets. In the interview, Macdonald described Barr as “crying constantly” over her show’s cancellation and said that he convinced her to call C.K. over what happened, since they had experienced similar falls from grace.
"There are very few people that have gone through what they have, losing everything in a day," Macdonald said. "Of course, people will go, 'What about the victims?' But you know what? The victims didn't have to go through that."
THR points out that both C.K. and Barr are friends with Macdonald, and Barr even landed him his first big break in comedy.
Macdonald alsosaid he was glad the #MeToo movement had “slowed down a little bit.” He cited host and podcaster Chris Hardwick, whose ex-girlfriend claimed he was abusive, as evidence that the movement has gone too far.
"It used to be, 'One hundred women can't be lying'" Macdonald said. "And then it became, 'One woman can't lie.' And that became, 'I believe all women.' And then you're like, 'What?' Like, that Chris Hardwick guy I really thought got the blunt end of the stick there."
Macdonald’s comments are yet another example of how people in positions of privilege, like C.K. and Barr, are given the benefit of the doubt, while victims are often blamed for coming forward. Louis C.K. literally sexually assaulted women knowing that if they spoke out against him it could ruin their careers, and yet Macdonald is still more concerned with the pain of the abuser, not the abused.
Our culture needs to revaluate how it views victims of sexual misconduct and oppression—and Macdonald should do some serious reflection before he voices his opinion on these issues again.