I’m relieved to know that I can apparently go back to thinking of Louis C.K. as the person I thought he was—though with some newly-acquired doubts about his taste in comedy—after his appearance on The Daily Show last night. Apparently, I—and the people who thought he was mocking Daniel Tosh—was wrong to interpret his Tweet to Tosh praising his television show, sent in the teeth of a…er…vigorous conversation about Tosh’s response to a woman at a show who told him rape jokes weren’t funny, as a show of support. And I’ve rarely been more glad to be wrong. C.K. apparently sent the Tweet while he was on vacation in Vermont, inspired by an episode of Tosh.0 that amused him, and not meant to condone Tosh’s actions at all, given that C.K. was largely offline and was unaware of them (an excuse that if it was anyone else, I’d probably be skeptical of, but that I’m willing to do C.K. the credit of believing). C.K. explained that chain of events—as of the original writing of this post, I thought he’d deleted the relevant tweet, but apparently it’s still in his timeline—and explained his reaction to the controversy since. Watch it:
|The Daily Show with Jon Stewart||Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c|
The key bit is here:
It’s also a fight between comedian and feminists, which are natural enemies, because stereotypically speaking, feminists can’t take a joke…And on the other side, comedians can’t take criticism…I’ve read some blogs during this whole thing that have made me enlightened to things I didn’t know. This woman said how rape is something that polices women’s lives. They have a narrow corridor. They can’t go out late, they can’t go to certain neighborhoods, they can’t get a certain way, because they might get—That’s part of me now that wasn’t before. And I can still enjoy a good rape joke…This is also about men and women…Couples are fighting about Daniel Tosh and rape jokes. That’s what I’ve been reading on blogs. But they’re both making a classic gender mistake on this. Because the women are saying ‘This is how I feel about this.’ But they’re also saying ‘My feelings should be everyone’s primary concern.’ But the men are making this mistake, they’re saying ‘Your feelings don’t matter. Your feelings are wrong, and your feelings are stupid.’…To the men I say, ‘Listen. Listen to what the women are saying for a minute.’ And to the women, I say ‘Now that we heard you, now shut the fuck up for a minute.’
The way C.K. talks about his education in rape culture is the kind of thing that’s made me extend him so much credit in the past—even though, yes, to all the people who’ve sent me disturbing bits he’s done in the past, I’m aware—and the reason I’m willing to reup here. His curiosity is interesting to me, and I think it makes the women in Louie‘s audience, and the audience for C.K.’s shows feel like, even if C.K. crosses our personal lines, there’s a chance that he’s working through something in a way that will be useful to both him and us. And if I thought we could get the same deal he’s proposing here—folks who have been impacted by and have a direct stake in an issue talk, people who are less directly impacted listen, we give them room to think it through—more generally, I’d take it.