Michael Ian Black expected "heat" for weighing in on the discussion surrounding Louis C.K.'s surprise return to stand-up comedy, but now the "Wet Hot American Summer" star is straight up under fire.
Black's name has been quickly climbing the Twitter trends Tuesday since sharing an unpopular opinion on C.K. performing a 15-minute set at New York City's Comedy Cellar just 10 months after admitting to sexual misconduct. Last November, in a statement confirming allegations from five women, C.K. said he would "step back and take a long time to listen." But in the eyes of the majority roasting the disgraced comedian, it was not long enough.
"Will take heat for this, but people have to be allowed to serve their time and move on with their lives," Black tweeted. "I don't know if it's been long enough, or his career will recover, or if people will have him back, but I'm happy to see him try."
His statement resonated with many of his followers -- for all the wrong reasons.
In response to one critic, Black added, "I expect a lot of this, so I will say only that I'm not going to defend what he did or what he lost or what his punishment 'ought to be.' I'm only saying that we're in uncharted waters and we need to figure out how to move forward."
When a follower told Black she would demand her money back if she was at a show where C.K. performed unannounced, he said, "That would have been your right. I'm sure they would have refunded your money."
"I'll just make the point that, unlike other careers, when he does stand-up, Louis works for the audience. They will determine if he's welcome or not. And the answer may very well be that he's not," Black continued.
In an effort to clarify his thoughts, he tweeted out this statement.
"My empathy isn't for Louis. It's for the recognition that we're in a cultural moment in which some men who do terrible things have no pathway for redemption. That lack of a pathway creates a situation in which we are casting people out but not giving them a way back in," Black wrote. "The #metoo movement is incredibly powerful and important and vital. One next step, among many steps, has to be figuring out a way for the men who are caught up in it to find redemption."
That didn't go over particularly well, either. But to his credit, Black is trying to have a respectful conversation. In one thread, he admitted his position of privilege may be skewing his perspective.
"I don't think you're defending sexual assault. I DO think your position of privilege is leaving you a little shortsighted in this instance," tweeted entertainment journalist Cher Martinetti, and Black responded, "That might be true."
See the mix of thoughtful discussion and heated backlash that Black has ignited below.
I actually share this feeling, that at some point, we will have to navigate what reengaging looks like. But to me, the time to raise that issue is when someone has taken specific steps that we can point to that look like the beginning of a path. "Surprise!" is not a path.
A path is, "Here are the steps I took to make amends. Here is an apology that truly acknowledges the harm I caused. Here is me, opening myself to questions and challenges. Here are the sacrifices I'm willing to make." Not just "Did ya miss me?"
It's such a false choice, man. "No road to redemption" versus "Well, good to see him back in the saddle." So much is in between. The world is in between. All the work you do to get past your mistakes is in between. Your humanity, really, is in between. /fin
Here is a great example of the power dynamic. As a comic, does begging to differ with a more established comic like Michael Ian Black where this might be the first way he learns your name, affect your rep? Is the fear or hesitation there? (1/x) https://t.co/c3U1NHBi9h
I had Michael Ian Black blocked so appparently I already knew he was trash. Today's statements come as no surprise. Rich, white male defending the abusive behavior of another rich, white male. Day ending in Y. pic.twitter.com/Xx7S8T1Q2X
So in today's news Michael Ian Black is an enabling asshole American news media have learned nothing about breathlessly reporting polls and continue to do it The president of the United States continues to be a petulant and unusually colored turnip ... Well, I'm awake now
There's zero evidence that Louis CK has done a goddamn thing to make good on the deep harm he caused yet we have celebrities out here bemoaning his "lack of pathway" back to the very industry where he caused that harm. STOP IT.
I'm so sick of men like Michael Ian Black worrying about the path back to redemption for abusive men. Where's the path back for their victims? Because their path back should be paved before the abusers