Sooner or later in our tradition, we started to see male comedians as philosophers. Invoking the legacies of George Carlin, Richard Pryor and Invoice Hicks, comedy followers have labeled humorous males as paternalistic fact tellers that all of us should revere. By no means thoughts the truth that these males are now not alive and thus don’t have any alternative to problem the way in which their work has been framed and which residing comics they’re in comparison with.
Louis C.Okay. is one such comic who has typically been spoken of in the identical breath as these males, regardless of missing the customarily political fringe of their work. C.Okay. and comics like Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle are the confirmed gold commonplace of comedy, standing on the prime of the mountain trying down at the remainder of us. There’s no denying their expertise and perception, however they’re very a lot nonetheless human, regardless of the prevailing want to see them as otherworldly and past reproach just because they’ve made us snigger.
The Backside Line
An data piece in quest of a thesis.
However how is it that we discover ourselves, time and again, prioritizing highly effective males above all else? That’s the query that must be on the coronary heart of the documentary Sorry/Not Sorry, which chronicles the rise and fall of C.Okay. with a concentrate on his sexual harassment of feminine comedians all through his profession. The movie, directed by Caroline Suh and Cara Mones, is predicated on a New York Occasions article by Melena Ryzik, Cara Buckley and Jodi Kantor. Combining speaking head interviews with comedy footage, article excerpts and tweets, the documentary makes an attempt to create a transparent timeline of C.Okay.’s habits slowly being uncovered to the general public. From whispers to blind objects to The New York Occasions, C.Okay.’s rising fame mirrors the media’s increasing curiosity in exposing abusive office habits.
Inevitably, there are echoes of final yr’s She Mentioned, Maria Schrader’s dramatization of Kantor and fellow Occasions reporter Megan Twohey’s efforts to interrupt the Harvey Weinstein sexual assault story. However right here there’s a clearer sense of journalistic take away from the extra emotional features of the narrative. Somewhat than broaden a lot on the investigation into the comic himself, Sorry/Not Sorry makes use of its supply article as a pretense for a considerably muted dialogue of comedy, gender and the cult of persona that allowed C.Okay. to reap the benefits of his feminine colleagues. That includes interviews with comedy figures like Mike Schur and Michael Ian Black in addition to writers like comedy journalist Sean L. McCarthy and Occasions critic Wesley Morris, the movie struggles to create a cohesive understanding of C.Okay. and his actions.
A lot of the main target of the movie is on comic Jen Kirkman, who turned infamous for being one of many first feminine comedians to say something publicly damaging about C.Okay. Like most individuals within the comedy group, Kirkman wasn’t desiring to make waves, however that was precisely what she did. Her commentary, together with the contributions of artist and comic Abby Schachner and comic and author Megan Koester, serves to articulate the issue of navigating comedy’s intricate boys’ membership. The movie fortunately spends no time with the foolish query of whether or not or not girls are humorous, as an alternative revealing the mechanisms that work to stop them from doing what they love.
Sadly, these girls are trapped in a documentary that feels undercooked. Divided into seven narratively ill-defined components, Sorry/Not Sorry strikes like the primary draft of an article that has all its sources, however doesn’t fairly have a thesis but. Somewhat than considering the nuances of C.Okay.’s rise and fall, it’s merely an data piece, including footnotes to the story we already know. We all know that he was well-liked for a few years. We all know that the rumors have been swirling round, maybe from the start. We all know that C.Okay. did what he was accused of as a result of he’s admitted to it. The middle of the discourse was not about whether or not he did it, however fairly whether or not we as a society ought to care in any respect.
Maybe simply as perverse because the sexual harassment itself is the way in which folks publicly evaluated whether or not or not these girls ought to care about what occurred to them. Comedy personalities like Invoice Maher and Joe Rogan weighed in, opening the floodgates for everybody out and in of the comedy group to share their take a few state of affairs they don’t have anything to do with. In a clip from his 2020 Netflix particular The Fowl Revelation, Chappelle accuses Schachner of getting a “brittle ass spirit” for supposedly permitting C.Okay.’s actions to discourage her profession ambitions. By no means thoughts the truth that comedy is, in truth, a job, and the group is ostensibly a office, which suggests it theoretically must be secure for everybody. Greater than Rock or C.Okay., Chappelle has introduced himself because the patriarch of American comedy, and his uncritical acceptance of C.Okay.’s actions bolsters the concept that girls’s participation within the comedy group is of little significance. Even worse, they’re apparently anticipated to proceed understanding that’s the case.
Within the movie’s remaining sections, the main target is on cancellation. However at this level, it must be clear that cancellation for human beings doesn’t exist. Audiences have at all times chosen whose work they wish to comply with and help based mostly on their very own worth techniques. After many years of social media, folks have turn out to be hyper-fixated on the consumption habits of not solely these round them, however everybody on this planet. It’s merely not attainable for there to be full settlement, so C.Okay.’s return was inevitable. Contemplating the messiness of its topic, it’s no shock that Sorry/Not Sorry offers no satisfying solutions to the query of the place to go from right here. And although the uncertainty is true to life, there’s an air of pointlessness to the movie. As a result of on the finish of the day, right here we’re, speaking about this man once more, questioning if something will change.