New year, new start! After all the exciting social upheavals last year such as Post #MeToo, it’s all change now, right?
Oh, Diana. Your optimism is beautiful, shining like a beacon in the apocalyptic wasteland of cynicism in which we now find ourselves. Sadly, snuff it out I must. It was all terribly exciting this time last year, as we watched powerful people being called out for behaviours that had always been wrong but – for reasons no one can explain now – they had been able to get away with until literally last year. Sexism, racism, harassment and even flat-out rape: they were all denounced, as previously marginalised, or at least less powerful, people finally took a stand against powerful men, and – more importantly – they were believed. Even if we didn’t win all the fights, even if Brett “I didn’t write: ‘Sexually assault someone’ on my calendar; case closed!” Kavanaugh is, incredibly, on the supreme court, despite Christine Blasey-Ford’s powerful testimony that he assaulted her as a teenager, it still felt like a watershed had been reached. Truly, we thought, men had learned their lesson. Oh, brave new dawn of sexual equality!
Aaaand – as they say in the movies – scene. The sequel rarely lives up to the original because there is always a sense of anticlimax seeing what happens after the original’s euphoric ending scene. And what is happening here is a definite letdown. It turns out that the men have not learned their lesson. No, in fact, they think they have been wronged. Because nothing is more unfair than being called on out on your behaviour, it seems.
Kevin Hart appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’s talkshow last week, after stepping down from hosting the Oscars in December when criticism of his previous fondness for making homophobic jokes in his tweets and standup became too loud for even him to ignore. An extremely successful comedian doesn’t get to host the Oscars: as tragedies go, it isn’t exactly up there with the Rohingya refugees. And yet the normally sensible DeGeneres seems to have decided that this is a cause she needs to champion, announcing on her show that she is “praying” Hart can return to the Oscars. As for Hart, he has been engaged in serious self-reflection, considering that his routine about how his greatest fear is his son being gay and describing someone as looking like “a gay bill board [sic] for Aids” was both cruel and damaging, and he is filled with remorse. Ha ha, jk jk jk. Rather, Hart described the criticisms as “a malicious attack on my character”. He added that he is determined to host the Oscars because: “Somebody has to take a stand against the trolls.” Hi Kevin, Hadley from the Guardian here, can you clarify who are “the trolls”: the people criticising homophobia or the man who writes tweets describing someone as a “fat faced fag”? Kevin?
Hart is not alone in his resistance to self-examination. Aziz Ansari is back doing standup almost a year after he was accused by a woman of … well, let’s just call it “less than ideal behaviour on a date”, note that he was “surprised and concerned” by her account and get to the matter at hand. Once Ansari styled himself as Mr Woke, writing a book called Modern Romance, wearing Time’s Up pins to red-carpet events and so on. But according to the New York Times, his latest show’s theme is “contempt for people trying to outwoke each other”. Ah, how fast the woke turn when wokeness turns against them!
The same could be said of Louis CK. Once, he did brilliant routines about how men were so dangerous to women that a woman agreeing to date with one was like him having to agree to a date with “a half-bear and half-lion and thinking: ‘I hope this one’s nice!’” Alas, it has since been revealed he is less than nice, having admitted – after years of denials – to masturbating in front of horrified women. A clip of his latest routine was recently leaked in which he mocked, of all people, the survivors of the Parkland shooting, confirming that CK hasn’t quite grasped who’s who in the whole predator-victim nexus.
Now, no one can dictate how someone should react to being publicly shamed and vilified. But it would be nice if at least some of these men could spend, I don’t know, two minutes examining their culpability, instead of running away from such reflections in terror and lashing out at the world, like a toddler who can’t deal with being told off for being mean to his baby sister so he hits his mother. I don’t ask for much, guys. But I will ask for adult men to be better than toddlers.
Talking about someone who has not learnt their lesson. Read more on Piers Morgan having a rant