He had us going, for a while. You think you know a guy, and then he rapes the hell out of someone’s face.
Stand-up set after stand-up set, Louis C.K.’s been championing women on Louie, but now that he straight-up sexually assaulted Pamela (Pamela Adlon), all that feminism disappears. Up until this point, his character was passive, tongue-tied, and powerless while all the kickass women ran shit. You knew his sad sack routine was building in support of an outburst, but this was scary. In one episode, he managed to slide that male power structure right back in place.
In the latest episode, he revisits his SNL feminist rant — his shock that we still call tanks wifebeaters, his belief that mothers should run the world, but it turns out, his character wants to be more of a macho douche bag than you thought. It’s no mistake that he talks about women being cruel and flicking penises. His alter ego on the show really is that humiliated, and he’s boiling over with frustration because ladies just won’t throw him a bone. So he finds the perfect solution: be an awkward monster.
He’s had a decade-long hard on for Pamela, and decides he’s had enough. He explodes, snapping into the same male power figure he trashes. That was rape, she tells him, even if he sucked at it. That’s simply the fact.
His self-pity so far has actually been endearing because his observations are so damn sharp. You engage fully with his famous but out-of-shape white male problems. Women laugh in his face, he does nothing, and shocker, he finishes last. You want him to get the girl, or any girl, but he undermines all sympathy you have for the guy because even a bumbling sad sack can still overpower women. And, here’s the twist, win.
Louis C. K. made every chick cooler than he was, but Pamela was the most baddass. She was a refreshing change to the caricatured female love interest, and then he made her powerless when he grabbed at her, chased after her, and cornered her in his creepy apartment. He decides he’s going to “take control” and bam, the spicy, mouthy woman is reduced to a shaky powerless victim. What’s really weird about the sexual assault scene is that her reaction in the end somehow redeems him. She tries to fight him off, but she ends up shrugging and submitting. It turns out, maybe she will be DTF. No matter how repulsed by the assault she is, she seems strangely intrigued by the fact he’s going for it after being a punk for so long.
There’s some good old victim-blaming here too. She lead him on and was getting off on his M’lady routine. For a guy, that’s fuzzy. When a woman says “no no no no” it’s a dead giveaway she wants you to keep trying, right? He does, and it might actually work out in his favor. He insists that she really wants him, and he’s not wrong. (Robin Thicke obviously explains all of this way better in the feminist masterpiece “Blurred Lines.”)
Louis C. K. may demand equality with his comedy, but when he positions his imposing figure over the petite Pamela, he quickly sets women all the way back. For all the airtime he gave to respecting women, they’ll never advance enough because they can always be cornered into a terrifying position. It doesn’t matter that he’s clumsy and doesn’t pull it off. He threatens her enough to turn her into a defenseless victim. Her vicious jokes are nothing once he brings physical strength to the picture. His seizure of every opportunity to trash the male hierarchy makes it oddly unsettling that violence against women might bring him his happy ending after all. Pamela slinks away after pruning her face through the world’s cringiest kiss, but she’s still entertaining the idea of being with him. He might actually get the girl.
Through all of this, here’s the joke from the episode that will stick: women ruled the world and then men found out, “we can hit them,” and then that was it. It’s true, his strength wins, which can’t be much on a diet of bang bang meals, but it’s powerful enough. Man, thanks a lot Louis C. K., you build us up and take us down. You double fist pump the shit out of this moment when you took control, because you strung women along like an even crueler Pamela only to dump us off at second class status in the end.
The fact that women’s belated progress has been disrupting the power imbalance between men and women isn’t what leads him to do it. It’s really just a horrible consequence of blue balls. Instead of playing baseball with a piano, he takes his anger out on a human he cares about, and it’s frightful to see Pamela cower. He flat-out pushed himself on her, and it rips down his pro-women banner for good. What’s worse is that by forcing himself on her, he might actually attract her and reverse his losing streak. He makes this cringey dark moment an act of awkward bravery, and it hurts.
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