Go Read It
Caitlin Flanagan, often a vocal (and sometimes inflammatory) supporter of the #Metoo movement, has written an intriguing take on the latest celebrity to find his career smoking hot and then suddenly just smoking, in terms of embers and, eventually, ash.
Aziz Ansari, one of the star's of Parks and Recreation and currently the owner-operator of his own Netflix series, Master of None, has been accused by a young woman of some ungentlemanly behavior.
I mean, I don't even have the terminology anymore. It was obnoxious, boorish, aggressive, threatening, disgraceful, and not really all that unusual, even to someone out of the dating business for decades.
But listen: If we're going to have this conversation, I just think you should read the article. It's pretty short. I'm not saying I share her sentiments, although I wasn't offended or outraged or anything remotely resembling upset. I was mostly just interested.
As I remain, about the whole situation. Interested. Not particularly passionate, although occasionally my blood boils. I have no desire to ever hear about or see images of Kevin Spacey or Matt Lauer again, unless it involves an orange jumpsuit. I suspect Louis CK might eventually have some commentary, at some point in the future, that I'll pay attention to.
And I think Al Franken was probably railroaded by a perfect storm, and Garrison Keillor? Oh, who really cares. He's essentially retired. I thought that whole thing smelled funny, but whatever.
What I am interested in is the moment that each of us could have, or already have had, when someone we admire and respect and like gets an accusation. It can be disappointing, we can get angry, we can push back, we can rationalize, but in the end decisions aren't really ours to make.
A friend recently posted a question on Facebook, with a weak response that, I think, caused him to wonder about the wording and then just let it die. It was a question about consequences, about whether we all thought that the punishment for one of these misdeeds, large or small, illegal or immoral or just rude and thoughtless, should be the loss of a career, income, etc. With families and coworkers in the picture, etc.
I was also puzzled by the framing of his question, since it seemed to imply a collective desire when I don't think there's a consensus. These guys have just lost their jobs, our input not withstanding. Nobody was clamoring for Kevin Spacey to get disappeared from an actual film, because that just happened, whoosh. Same with the others.
And same, maybe, for Aziz Ansari, whose career and visibility were rising in a big way. He had fame, power, and money, and he was trying to have sex with a fledgling photographer 15 years his junior (i.e., in her early 20s). None of us have to be instructed on unequal relationships, not anymore.
His career? I dunno. Sort of depends, I guess, on how this plays out. Netflix may already have axed him. For all I know, they're pulling Parks and Recreation from their vaults as we speak. Corporate America tends to cut losses brutally, and this is all about corporate America. So it goes.
I have no particular feelings about Ansari. I haven't actually had much disappointment at all. A lot of it was news to me, and I was often disgusted and appalled, but I wasn't surprised. Been around a while.
I'm also not as horrified as Ms. Flanagan, although I take her point. I also take the point of this young woman, powerless and weak against a powerful and strong man; her only way to fight back, assuming she wanted to, was to humiliate Ansari and put his job in jeopardy. She certainly did that, anyway. Maybe if he'd apologized afterward, acknowledged his horndog behavior and said he was sorry, this would never had happened and all of us have to figure that out.
Or maybe she just wanted to hurt him because hey, he hurt her. Or maybe there was something more calculating, although it doesn't seem as though she wants publicity (her identity is being protected at the moment, anyway).
As I say, I don't care all that much about Ansari, or really about this getting out of hand. It feels like a correction, and corrections can be painful. It's possible people are going to get damaged who don't really deserve it. This is unfair but so is life, and so is being young and female and facing a real fear of being raped by a star. I think I'll just watch.
But read it. Interesting, as I said. I'm going to keep watching.