Disgraced Celebs Returning to the Public Eye
Less than a year after their respective accusations of sexual misconduct, Louis CK, Matt Lauer, and Aziz Ansari are slowly returning to public life.
This week, after maintaining eight months of public silence after allegations that he forced several female co-workers to watch him masturbate, Louis CK performed a surprise set at New York’s Comedy Cellar. CK would go on to admit to these actions, saying “The hardest regret to live with is what you’ve done to hurt someone else.”
His 15-minute performance was greeted with a standing ovation.
Around the same time, Aziz Ansari announced his first performance in his home state of South Carolina in years. The show has been advertised as him “working out new material,” and cellphones and smart watches have been summarily banned. In January, the website Babe published a piece by an anonymous photographer who accused Ansari of ignoring her verbal and nonverbal cues that she didn’t want to have sex.
Both of these public returns come in the wake of Matt Lauer telling several fans at a restaurant that he would be “back on TV.” Lauer was fired from his job at NBC when an investigation revealed that he had been sexually harassing female co-workers for years.
Aside from their celebrity, gender, and the sexual allegations against them, the thing that these three have in common is that none of them appear to be opening up about the proverbial elephants in the room.
During CK’s set, he didn’t address the scandal, a fact that surprised some, as CK is particularly well-known for dredging up embarrassing and uncomfortable self-reflection as part of his onstage persona.
“It’s not that C.K. actually went in on himself,” wrote Sonia Saraiya in piece for Variety. “It’s that he made it look like he did — enough to get away with a pattern of sexually intimidating female colleagues for a span of at least 15 years.”
During a Milwaukee show featuring Aziz Ansari, Vulture wrote of his subject matter in a now-deleted article: “To address the elephant in the room: Ansari didn’t.”
Lauer’s plans to return to television have at least been based on little more than what a group of fans have said, though there have been reports that he’s met with producers to discuss a comeback.
These unencumbered returns to the public eye have, for many, refuted the notion that even allegations of sexual harassment can irreparably destroy a man’s career.
Yesterday I saw that Aziz Ansari has “quietly” returned to performing & today I see that Louis CK has returned to performing, greeted by a standing ovation. The argument that sexual assault allegations ruin men’s lives is absolute bullshit.
Making them often ruins women’s, tho.
— Melissa McEwan (@Shakestweetz) August 28, 2018
Louis CK inspires us by showing you can move past a dark point in your life and start anew by just like lying low for a weekend
— Jenny Nicholson (@JennyENicholson) August 29, 2018
Louis CK is back and got a standing ovation at Comedy Cellar in NYC and Matt Lauer is returning to TV. Just another day of awful white men getting rewarded for being awful.
— saira rao (@sairasameerarao) August 28, 2018
How much further each of these men can push their careers, despite the online backlash against them, remains to be seen.