Walking away from Louis C.K.

As a huge fan of his work, I naively hoped the rumors weren't true. But it's time to stop pretending.

Louis C.K. performs in New York
(Image credit: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

On the day his film I Love You, Daddy was supposed to premiere, Louis C.K. was instead featured in a New York Times story in which five women describe unwanted sexual encounters with the comedian and auteur. Old rumors have been sourced and corroborated, and it's starting to seem like there was an ugly conspiracy of silence around the guy whose comedic signature was his absolute, disarming, self-flagellating frankness.

I'm mourning these reports, as a fan, which is beyond embarrassing. It means admitting you were duped, and you're likely struggling between horror and denial. If you're a fan, you might — instead of registering the gravity of all this — notice your mind wandering. Even as it admires the women who came forward, it will also roam sloppily toward your love of the man's work. It might even alight, quite gingerly, on the question of comebacks. (Too soon! your brain will say, but Mel Gibson's back in Daddy's Home 2! Anything is possible!) But first there are other questions, like, what exactly has been lost? And how widely known was Louis C.K.'s alleged conduct? Is the comedy world as bad as Hollywood? Who knew what, and when did they know it?

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Lili Loofbourow

Lili Loofbourow is the culture critic at TheWeek.com. She's also a special correspondent for the Los Angeles Review of Books and an editor for Beyond Criticism, a Bloomsbury Academic series dedicated to formally experimental criticism. Her writing has appeared in a variety of venues including The Guardian, Salon, The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and Slate.