Almost a year after #MeToo accusations against him, comedian Louis C.K. is returning to the limelight.
Commentators and public alike are occupied with the question: Can C.K. and Hollywood’s other outed abusers regain their celebrity status and our trust? Or, in other words, is there a path to redemption?
Important questions, but I’d like us to consider others. Let’s start with: How do powerful men define loss? And why must we adopt their definitions? How much—or how little—are we willing to ask them to do to make something like amends?
If you recall, in November 2017, the New York Times reported that C.K was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women who said C.K. masturbated in front of them. The next day, C.K. issued a written response, stating “these stories are true.”
Since then, he’s been testing the waters with sporadic unannounced performances, including a set last week at the West Side Comedy Club in New York, where he actually addressed his sexual misconduct for the first time since his written statement. In August, he performed at the Comedy Cellar, also in New York; his set included a joke about a rape whistle, described by two women audience members as “uncomfortable.” Not the sign of a transformed or even faintly sorry man.
In the recent West Side Comedy Club appearance, C.K. put a dollar amount to the cost of his behavior, saying he lost $35 million dollars in his journey from “hell and back”—words that echo new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s angry bluster that credible sexual misconduct allegations took him “through hell and then some.” But don’t feel sorry for C.K.; aside from his atrocious behavior, his net worth was estimated at a sizable $16 million in