Culture

Marc Maron Has Broken His Silence With A Huge Statement About His Friend Louis C.K.

"This is obviously a massive, turbulent learning moment for men."

As promised, Marc Maron has broken his silence on the sexual misconduct of his long-time friend Louis C.K. The comedian has issued a 20-minute statement on the latest episode of his iconic podcast WTF with Marc Maron that addresses what he knew, what he didn’t know, and the US comedy scene as a whole.

Maron briefly addressed the news on Twitter a couple of days ago after The New York Times reported C.K. had masturbated in front of multiple female comedians without their consent. Describing the (now confirmed) allegations as “not good” (which, yes, was criticised as an understatement), Maron promised he had “more to say about [the issue]”.

Whatever you think about Maron and his connections to Louis C.K., he certainly delivered on that. The full statement is a compelling look into not only the pair’s relationship, but toxic masculinity and power imbalance in the culture at large.

“I’m Disappointed In My Friend”

Maron starts out by labelling C.K.’s actions as “vile, hurtful, damaging, selfish shit”. “There was a report in The New York Times and a day later Louis copped to it. He copped to it late, but he did it.

“He’s my friend and it’s a difficult position to be in. I certainly can’t condone anything he did, there was no way to justify it or defend it, there’s no way to apologise for him about it. There’s no way to let him off the hook. But there’s a lot of concern about who knew what when; how did you guys let this happen, everybody knew this, everybody knew that, everybody was in on it. That’s not true.”

Maron contends that he “knew what most people knew”. He’d heard of the story going around (first reported by Gawker in 2012), and confronted C.K. about it directly. Maron contends that Louis C.K. rebuffed the questions saying, “No, it’s not true, it’s not real, it’s a rumour.” He was also reportedly not willing to make a public statement about the allegations, so as not to fuel the story. Maron, at the time, was content with that, but now identifies it as part of a broader problem.

“The real problem is that female comics have been hearing about this stuff for awhile,” he said. “There was no place where they could go with [their] information. I know some of them. I know Rebecca Corry [one of the women Louis C.K. exposed himself to] and she couldn’t tell me about this. There was no place for them to go with these stories where they could feel safe about them. It’s fucking sad.

“When it comes to believing women, I want to believe women but in this particular story, there was no one named in that story, there were no women to go tell this story, there were no women attached to it. I didn’t know their names until Friday, so I believed my friend.”

Later in the podcast, he said he was “disappointed in [his] friend” but he’ll continue his relationship with the comedian. “He did some gross shit. Some damaging shit… He fucked up. He’s in big fucking trouble. So, what am I going to do? I’m going to be his friend, what do you want me to do.”

“It’s probably the best time to be his friend, when he needs to make changes in his life. I can learn from it, he can learn from it.”

Reflections On The Fucked System

Arguably, the most interesting parts of Maron’s statement were the times at which he reflected on his complicity within an industry that has systematically oppressed women. He noted comedy has no HR department and no mechanisms to deal with this kind of stuff, and suggested it’s up to men to strive to do better.

“The environment enabled the dismissiveness of it,” he said, speaking of the ways in which women were silenced. “How do I put this: the work environment and the social environment makes it difficult for people to come forward and be heard, to be listened to, to be believed, and for action to be taken around that. It is pushed aside, it is dismissed, it is framed as an annoyance, or an embarrassment. It is used against people, it’s used as a threat.

“That is the structure in this and in life. So how do we get that power structure in check? The big step is empathy — something I’ve had problems with.”

The comedian admitted he’s personally been a “toxic male presence” at various points in his life, and that it has affected others around him. “I think I operate now at maybe a 25-30 percent toxicity level, but I’ve certainly been up around 90 in terms of being emotionally abusive, insensitive, angry, selfish, compulsive and completely without empathy to the power structure that exists between men and women.”

“This is obviously a fucking massive, turbulent learning moment for men — if you choose to take the education.”

“I mean, god, I was in two relationships with women that started out as fans. I married one and was engaged to another one. I didn’t fully understand that dynamic… I’m older now, I’ve taken some hits, I’ve thought about things. It’s better.”

“This is obviously a fucking massive, turbulent learning moment for men — if you choose to take the education,” he went on. He repeatedly noted the importance of empathy and backtracked through his own life to find examples he could relate women’s experience to.

“When you have man brain, or are not capable of empathising properly with women — which I don’t think a lot of men are, though I’m not going to speak for all men. To find that empathy, it requires vigilance. And not just listening to someone’s story, or listening to something someone says — to put yourself in the place of another person, that requires work.

“The way forward for us in life, is to make sure these voices are heard, and then they will feel like they can be heard.”

So… Where To Now?

Maron’s statement comes at a critical time, when many of Louis C.K.’s friends and collaborators are being asked to step forward and disavow the comedian. There’s particular pressure on Amy Poehler and Aziz Ansari, who both shared a manager with Louis C.K.. Jon Stewart has also been highly criticised for his previous dismissals of the “rumours”.

On the whole, the response to Maron’s podcast opener has been positive. It’s being praised as honest and empathetic perspective — one that could prove especially important for the comedy bros who need to hear it most.

Maron has readied himself for criticism too. “I know that what I’ve got to say here isn’t going to please everyone, people are going to be mad about something, I understand,” he said at the end of the intro.

“My only hope is that it makes somebody look at something different and look at the situation in a way that’s proactive. It’s about the struggle to be better people, and make the places we live in and work in function better for everybody.”

The women who came forward about Louis C.K.’s actions have had mixed responses to the fallout. The woman who commented anonymously told The New York Times she’s waiting on a personal apology from the comedian. Dana Min Goodman and Julia Wolov have called out C.K.’s public “apology” as self-serving, and Abby Schachner has posted a long statement to Facebook saying she forgives C.K. and is now looking for broader change.

“We see the sickness. Let’s address it. Get it healthy.”

It’s gonna be a long road ahead.

Meg Watson is the Editor of Junkee. She tweets @msmegwatson.