What the Louis CK win says about the Grammys
By Ben Spaeth
Photo: The New York Times – Source
Louis C.K. is making headlines yet again after the canceled comic won a Grammy for best comedy album. This is his third time winning the award, but is the first time he’s been nominated since the sexaul harassment admition and sexual assualt allegations. The mere fact that he was even nominated for the award is astonishing. He had to beat out several big name comedians to win the award including Kevin Hart, Chelsea Handler, and Lewis Black. What’s even weirder is that the album that was the heavy favorite before nominations were released was ruled to not be a comedy album by the Grammys. That album being Bo Burnham’s Inside. The Grammys had the wherewithal to disqualify the most popular comedy album of the year according to Billboard, but not the common sense to not nominate a self admitted sexual harrassor. I don’t know what rule here needs to be tweaked, but there had to have been some adult in the room at the Grammys that knew that nominating Louis C.K. in a fairly weak year for comedy albums could lead to Louis C.K. winning an award. Louis C.K. winning this award is a stain on the Grammys that they will likely never wash off.
A lot of people are taking this opportunity to sling more hate at Louis C.K. but I feel like that sentiment is somewhat missguided. It’s not his fault he won the award. The allegations didn’t take away his comedic prowess or willingness to perform. After he is a person trying to put food on the table. However, after the incident he should’ve been completely deplatformed. There’s no reason he should’ve been getting invites to perform at venues. Anyone who extends these invites is not treating his actions and the allegations with the seriousness they deserve. With that being said I don’t have a problem with him starting his own website and selling his stuff there. While I personally would never buy anything from his website and question the ethics of doing so, to completely halt him from making any money off of his art seems a step too far for me. I think the accepted outcome should be a diminished audience and an understanding that he is no longer an all time great comedian.
The blame for Louis C.K.’s Grammy win lies solely with the Grammys. There are plenty of comedians more deserving of a nomination than Louis C.K. He had already won two Grammys before this so you can even say he was due for a win. I understand that he addresses his misconduct within the special, but that’s like me sorting out my legal issues (not that I have any) in this article. While his life is his work in a sense, if he has anything to say about how these allegations have been affecting him he should do it publicly and not behind a paywall. I’m usually against putting this type of stuff in the public sphere because I feel problems are better handled privately and not in the tabloids, but when it comes to this specific situation, Louis C.K. is already putting it out there just in a setting that is more favorable to him and him alone. I don’t think that’s fair to any of his accusers. I know people want to hear his take on this, similarly to how people wanted to hear Chris Rock after he was slapped by Will Smith, but I don’t think a comedy show is the best place to discuss these types of allegations.
Louis C.K. was also not even the only person accused of sexual assualt that was nominated. The allegations against Marilyn Manson are perhaps far worse than anything Louis C.K. is accused of and that’s saying something. Manson was nominated this year for his work on the Kanye West album Donda. The Grammys were likely forced into nominating Manson because they couldn’t nominate Donda without nominating Manson. Weirdly enough though, Manson was nominated for best rap song, but was later removed because the Grammys said he didn’t meet the qualifications to be credited as a writer. The song he was nominated for would later go on to win the Grammy. Another documented abuser who was nominated this year was Chris Brown. Brown was nominated twice for album of the year for his work on Donda and Back of My Mind.
Hopefully the Grammys have learned their lesson from this mess and don’t continue to support abusers. I know it’s easy for them to sneak into a credits list for a popular album, but the bare minimum the Grammys can do is just not nominate their solo work.