Ethan reflects on a month of tensions and scandal.
(Warning: contains swearwords, mild manners and references to Louis CK’s recent scandal, which may cause distress)
It’s November: the month for forgetting the horrors of Halloween and waiting impatiently for December, so you can go off on your winter holiday to Bath. Yes, I’m generalising all humans, but I’m sure some of you will relate to my observational comedy; that’s where the $$$s are at. They represent a winding river, that comes and goes, and car keys, and now look away from the camera.
It’s also Movember: the month where you grow a moustache, and have it removed by CGI so you look like a plastic Superman. Again, I’m generalising, but I’m sure one specific man will relate. I’m going for the niche market, baby. $$$S.
Now, I normally use these articles to talk about and document my comedy outings and what I think about them, however I haven’t done much comedy related stuff recently: I haven’t gigged in a while, so I’m probably as rusty as Hugh Hefner’s abandoned OAP sex harnesses, and the last time I laughed was when I first saw all of Joss Whedon’s jokes in the Justice League trailer a year before it was released in cinemas.
I’m going to try to get a few gigs tomorrow, though it’s quite a daunting task as I’m in a new country; I don’t understand how the clubs work here; and I’ve got to be home by 10pm so I can get that juicy 8 hours of sleep before my long commute to my day job. Sigh – I’ve entered the real world of comedy.
Why does money have to be earned? Paper money literally grew from trees, but this new “kill a cow for a fiver, destroy the rain forest for a tenner” money is so much harder to get hold of, that I’m forced to work for a living, like I’m one of you. McDonald’s seems to be ahead of the curve, though, having destroyed the rain forest and replaced most of it to house cows before killing them years before the change to the new bank notes. If only somebody had told them then that palm oil and the cows themselves could be turned directly into British currency: maybe they would have cut out the middle man of fast food, and we wouldn’t have to suffer such high levels of childhood obesity.
Giving out sweets at Halloween doesn’t seem so bad if the child can actually fit through your garden gate to knock on your door; throwing them three feet into a funnel she’s taped to her mouth as part of her costume makes me feel like a real monster, not just dressed up as one. Like that time I forgot to put underwear on under my Robin costume, and brutally murdered the six mums who were phoning the police on me.
So, as I have done nothing that interesting this month, other than attack Justice League and your mum, in spite of the fact I enjoyed the film and went to watch it twice – with your mum – this article will address the comedy world in general. It’s not going to be that funny, though it rarely is, as I’m mainly a machine of hate and anger, not happiness and laughter – I’m the original director of Justice League, not the Avengers guy.
Moving away from Justice League and your mum, a larger, more important story has come to light recently: that of Louis CK. This story had been a long time coming, as allegations were circling the internet for a few years, and Woody Allen was about to release a now cancelled movie about a man masturbating in front of non-consenting women entitled: Fuck You, Louis, Pot Kettle.
I’m not going to discuss this specific case for long, as there are many other posts about it that are more well informed, more insightful and better written than whatever I could write, but I do want to use it to discuss this type of power abuse in general.
Some people are more powerful than others. That’s a given. Others aren’t that powerful, but when anybody uses their power, whether it be influence, monetary or physical power, over you, it can lead you into thinking that you’re alone, nobody can help, nobody wants to help, nobody will believe you, this person isn’t that successful so it’s not really that big a deal, it happens to everyone so you’re not that special, other people have witnessed worse so get over yourself, or that everybody knows and doesn’t care.
This is rarely the case, and there are normally people out there who will believe you and help you, I am one, however even the toughest of tough guys can’t help their psychological reactions to such abuse. It’s more likely you’ll feel ashamed and embarrassed it happened to you than that you’ll retaliate. Even those who confide in others and get offered help are likely to downplay the severity of the abuse, either out of a sense they’re overreacting or because they are so afraid the justice system will let them down that they don’t want to risk what little ‘normality’ they feel they have left.
Maybe the abuser is friendly otherwise, smiles politely and is fine in public, so perhaps the abuse isn’t that bad – maybe getting the friendly abuser into trouble is just mean and you’re overreacting and doing the wrong thing. Maybe the abuser is your significant other or friend, and so no matter how bad things get, you don’t want to sever your ties – you feel like you need to help fix them instead: make them better, and get back to how it used to be before the abuse began. Maybe the abuser is going through mental or physical health issues, and so you don’t want to be selfish and add onto their list of problems – after all, if their health issues are solved, they’ll probably stop abusing you.
Or maybe you’ve seen the tweets from a British police force making light of rape over a football match, or maybe you’ve seen how badly it goes for the victim when portrayed on film or TV, or maybe you’ve seen how difficult it is in the UK to accuse someone of abuse because our libel laws mean the onus is on the accuser to prove the abuse happened and not on the accused to prove it didn’t, or maybe you’ve seen how lenient the justice system is even on those convicted of such abuses. Again, you are not alone and it doesn’t matter how small the abuse may seem, however whatever your reasoning, it is hard to accept that abuse is abuse, and that you need to come forward for your own sake, health and safety. It is hard to accept that the abuser is a criminal because abuse is a crime. It is hard to get to that point. It is hard also to live with and hide the abuse.
Seeing a wave of powerful men in America falling because of their abuses of power, their abuses of others and their crimes may be heart-warming and it may make you feel hope, however the reason that’s not happening in the UK – and the reason those 1970s paedophile rapists got away until the death of one of them – isn’t because abuse doesn’t happen in the UK. It isn’t because the UK is perfect and hate free. It’s because you’d need to have complete proof for any newspaper to print it, or for any member of the justice system to take it seriously, as the onus will then be on you if anybody sues for libel – unless the accused is dead. In America, they would have to prove you wrong, so it’s easier to blow these stories up – it’s easier for you to find others who were abused by the same person, as the story will grow. Newspapers don’t fear any backlash; they’re protected by freedoms of speech and press. That gives victims confidence: the original accusers are joined by others, giving them more power over the once powerful abusers, and other, new accusers feel confident enough to step forward.
In the UK, it’s hard to even get people to mention the rumours in case of libel, let alone spark the much needed ‘witch hunt’ (or cunt hunt as I call it) and allow the fires of truth and justice to destroy the powerful abusers; the powerful criminals. In the UK, despite having backing from newspapers, friends or family, victims tend to be questioned by the justice system, tend to feel humiliated by their questions, and tend to lose all confidence and hide away. Internet trolls and actual people online and offline too tend to jump to defend personalities they admire by spewing hate and threats of violence on the accusers. Every time an accuser is attacked, whether rightly or wrongly, as being fake, it sends a wave of extra fear into the hearts of those who are truly victims that they themselves may be attacked and rubbished in the same ways. They fear they’ll be abused by the general public too. It doesn’t matter what gender the accuser or victim is, or how big and powerful or small the accused or criminal is, there will always be those who deem their own destructive, hate filled opinions matter more than the feelings and confidence of real victims and justice.
That needs to change. It all needs to change. Empathy is the next step to human evolution.
Ethan has been a TSR member for two and a half years. All words and opinions from this article are his. You can follow him on twitter if you want (@theejdavies).