Contrition Nation

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If there’s anything cheaper than life in present day America, it’s the public apology. Bad behavior, criminal choices, sociopathic outbursts, even murder, can be mitigated somewhat with the right plaintive tone. (Except for cops — cops never apologize.) Doesn’t matter if it’s sincere, so long as the intended audience believes it’s sincere. Which they usually don’t.

Louis C.K. is finding that out, assuming he’s still paying attention. If he’s smart, he’ll take what money he has left and go into hiding for three or four years. Discover Buddhism. Practice yoga with a morally-strict instructor. Deny himself the pleasures of the flesh, which inevitably lead to pain, destruction and ruin. All life is suffering. You bet.

In my day, comedians set themselves on fire, shot up their cars, freebased coke until their hearts exploded — and that was just Richard Pryor. Freddie Prinze briefly ruled before ending his career with a bullet to the brain. Belushi, Farley, Mitch Hedberg, and Greg Giraldo overdosed. That’s how comics used to do it. Louie’s crash is decidedly softer, which is why a lot of people aren’t satisfied with his mea culpa.

A random scroll through Twitter reveals various desires for Louie’s death, imprisonment, castration, or whatever torture a cubicle drone can imagine while sitting on the office toilet. Twitter may not reflect all Americans who use it (or we are seriously fucked), but much of it puts the lie to the perennial canard that Americans are a forgiving people. Not when there’s blood in the air. Not when the powerless can momentarily elevate themselves through shared moral outrage.

Of course, what Louis C.K. did was reprehensible, maybe even criminal, depending on how the law is interpreted. Those close to him knew, or had to have some idea, thus their relative silence so far. (Expect plenty of “What? I had no clue! My heart’s broken!”) Rumors are one thing, but as we’re discovering daily, there’s a lot of truth to them. In a country this twisted, is that any real surprise? Rape, sexual abuse, harassment, and all the shit that goes with it are no longer in the shadows. Women have truly had it. They’re done, which means they’re only getting started.

At least when it comes to showbiz. Countless wrongs may never be completely righted, but there are plenty of cases to work with, and you can almost smell the sweat coming from talent agencies and entertainment law offices alike. A lot of anxious professionals are going to log some serious overtime before this is over, if it’s ever over.

Meanwhile, those who rape the economy and financially bludgeon the populace are doubtless unconcerned with the current uproar. It must amuse them to see their underlings exposed, disgraced, perhaps even prosecuted. So long as the real power brokers aren’t dragged into daylight and set aflame, it’s all good. In fact, for them, it’s probably better than ever.

As for Louie, well, there’s always that yoga retreat in the distant hills where he can watch I LOVE YOU, DADDY on a loop, as did the hermetic Howard Hughes with ICE STATION ZEBRA. Life may be suffering, but that doesn’t mean you make it worse for others. Lights out at 10. No exceptions.