Louis C.K. documentary Sorry/Not Sorry review

Sorry/Not Sorry Review: Louis C.K. Gives Zero Apologies

Sorry/Not Sorry excels at prompting discussion that should extend beyond the film’s end credits.

In the pop culture timeline, male comedians get labelled as “truth tellers.” They stand on stage, spouting their mundane, ordinary observations that garner laughter and acceptance because they are “telling it like it is.” Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, and Louis C.K. are among the stars over whom people guffaw, nodding in agreement with their words. But the comedy circuit has not been so kind to female comics, whose same observations of daily life don’t earn them the label of “truth teller” no matter how real their observations get. Instead, when  women take a stand, like some comedians did against sexual misconduct allegations against Louis C.K., they were blackballed, ridiculed, and labelled as “liars” while the perpetrator escaped cancellation and returned to the stage and spotlight only months later.

Previously debuting at TIFF, Sorry/Not Sorry comes to audiences from filmmakers Caroline Suh and Cara Mones. It sparks a debate about power, consent, and second chances. Made in conjunction with The New York Times and the reporters who investigated the story of sexual misconduct and impropriety again Louis C.K., the doc takes a look at not just one of comedy’s worst-kept secrets, but how the once-lauded comedian was able to slough off cancel culture.

Why do we excuse and forgive men in power amidst their wrongdoings, especially when there are no doubts about their actions? This is the central theme of Sorry/Not Sorry. Establishing a timeline in which Louis C.K.’s prevalence for masturbating in front of female comedians was not only happening, but widely acknowledged among the comedy circuit and beyond, the film outlines how his years-long actions made the rounds of online blind gossip sites until becoming public in a 2017 New York Times article.

On the heels of the #MeToo movement as workplace exposés reached a fever pitch, C.K. admitted the stories were true, offering not an apology, but a promise to take some time out to think about his actions. Nine months later, he was back on stage with new material while the female comedians who spoke up saw their careers sputter. Like the title suggests, the comedian essentially shrugged his shoulders, admitted his wrongdoings and faults, but the word “sorry” never left his lips.

“Why should he apologize?” his supporters ask. After all, “no one was raped” and he did ask permission to “get his dick out” in front of women. Is what he did really that wrong when even the stunned victims first thought he was trying out a comedic bit? There was no crime, no charge, and no arrest, unlike Bill Cosby who gets name-dropped in comparison. This argument alone should be a glaring red flag for his supporters – in order for C.K. to seem not all bad, he has to be compared to a man accused of drugging and raping over 60 women. Like Cosby, C.K.’s actions are not up for debate, but society’s reaction to them is. The events and overall theme of Sorry/Not Sorry is clear: men get second (or third, or fourth) chances and nothing changes.

 

Sorry/Not Sorry excels at building a picture of Louis C.K., whose arrogance exudes off of him in waves. His rise to fame is rightly acknowledged in the documentary as its interviewees balance the good he has done in the comedy world with the bad. For some, it’s an internal struggle to recognize the duality of the comedian. From archival interviews to recollections by those who worked with him, there is no denying that Louis C.K. was a king of comedy with the Midas touch. Those who were in his orbit flourished and while they undoubtedly knew the rumours about his behaviour, they turned a blind eye.

The overall crux of the discussion is not about whether Louis C.K. did the things he’s accused of, but why we should care at all that a man of his prestige and power did these things. It’s one of the lasting conversations Sorry/Not Sorry excels at prompting, opening discussion that should extend beyond the film’s end credits.

Like the New York Times article its based on, Sorry/Not Sorry is provides a chronological timeline of events to illustrate how long these incidents were happening. Although Louis appears in archival clips and interview footage, it should come as no surprise that he doesn’t participate in the doc. A number of comedians including accusers Jen Kirkman and Abby Schachner, along with colleagues like Michael Ian Black and Aida Rodriguez fill in the details with other writers and critics.

Advertisements

The last act of the documentary turns its focus onto the idea of cancel culture and how, as proven by Louis, it doesn’t really exist. Instead, we are left to ponder why certain people get a “pass” when it comes to their misdeeds and how, to paraphrase Sarah Silverman, you can still have love for someone who did terrible things. It’s this inability to reach a consensus that makes Louis’ comeback inevitable, despite his never uttering an apology.

Sorry/Not Sorry releases July 12.



Comments

Advertisement



Advertisement


Advertisement